14 Christmas Carols.
Manchester: George Innes, [ca. 1820]. (BRF0107)
Intended to be used at Christmas time, but not kept for posterity, this broadside provides the texts for a selection of fourteen popular carols that was not otherwise available in a hymnal. Two of the texts were written by Charles Wesley (1707–1788), the brother of John Wesley and early leader of the Methodist movement: “Sons of Men, Behold from Far” (1781) and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” (1739). The latter hymn was not yet associated with its familiar tune, which Felix Mendelssohn (1809–1847) composed in 1840 for a German anthem honoring Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press. Wesley’s verses were not set to Mendelssohn’s melody until 1855.
The inexpensive and ephemeral nature of the broadside is underlined by the low quality of the paper, the uneven inking of the types, and the printer’s use of stock woodcuts of the Crucifixion, Resurrection, Father Time, and a donkey, which are of questionable relevance to the Christmas carol lyrics.