Making Movies

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Four Colly Birds

Four Colly Birds is the original line in the song 12 Days of Christmas (first published in England in 1780 without music as a chant or rhyme).  "Colly" being a regional English expression for "black". This wording must have been opaque to many even in the 19th century: "canary birds", "colour'd birds", "curley birds", and "corley birds" are found in its place. Frederic Austin's 1909 version, which introduced the now-standard melody, also altered the fourth day's gift to four calling birds, and this variant has become the most popular, although "colly" is still found.

These black birds really fly.....

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