William Sandys (antiquarian)
William Sandys (1792 – 18 February 1874) (pronounced "Sands"), was an English solicitor, member of the Percy Society, fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, and remembered for his publication Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern (London, Richard Beckley, 1833), a collection of seasonal carols that Sandys had gathered and also apparently improvised.
Sandys' book marked the first appearances of many now-classic English carols, including "God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen", and "The First Noel", and contributed to the mid-Victorian revival of the holiday. Sandys presented his collections in three parts. The first part "Containing Ancient Carols and Christmas Songs, From the Early Part of the Fifteenth to The End of the Seventeenth Century" contains examples in Middle English and Early Modern English.
The second part of Sandys' collection contains "A Selection From Carols Still Used In The West Of England" which Sandys claimed to have selected "from upwards of one hundred obtained in different parts of the West of Cornwall, many of which, including those now published, are still in use. Some few of them are printed occasionally in the country, and also in London, Birmingham, and other places, as broadside carols; others have appeared, with some variation, in Mr. Gilbert's collection, having been derived from similar sources; but a large portion, including some of the most curious, have, I believe, never been printed before."
Among the carols that made their first appearance here are the classics "The First Noel", "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen", "I Saw Three Ships", "Hark the Herald Angels Sing". Some have the traditional forms of carols. Others are recognizably composed. In the current atmosphere of "Merry England" that included the revival of Christmas that was signalled by Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" (1843), they all quickly developed their present reputations for being sixteenth century or earlier.
A third part offered "Specimens of French Provincial Carols."
Sandys repeated his success with Christmas-tide, Its History, Festivities and Carols, With Their Music (London: John Russell Smith, 1852), where he reprinted many of his finds.
- Richard Michael Kelly. A Christmas carol p.10. Broadview Press, 2003 ISBN 1-55111-476-3
- "In spite of continual references to 'old carols' it is no common thing to find a carol of established early date in any modern source, oral, written or printed," remarks Richard L. Greene, in "The Traditional Survival of Two Medieval Carols" ELH 7.3 (September 1940:223-238) p. 224.
- The New Oxford Book of Carols, ed. Hugh Keyte and Andrew Parrott (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992)
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- Free scores by William Sandys (antiquarian) at the International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP)
- Davey, Henry (1897). Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. 50. London: Smith, Elder & Co. . In
- Works by or about William Sandys at Internet Archive
- Works by William Sandys at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)