In preparation for Rokeclif hosting Bardic Madness, I led a class on period music. Many of the songs we sang during the wintertime celebrations have their roots in the middle ages. A few examples:
The tune used for "Good King Wenceslas" was published in a sixteenth-century collection with the words, "Tempus adest Floridum", a carol for spring. These words appear in Carmina Burana, a thirteenth-century collection.
The tune of Greensleeves was used in 1642 as a New Year's carol before it became "What Child is This?"
"Good Christian Folk Rejoice" was sung by a circle of dancing angels in the fourteenth century with the words, "In dulci Jubilo"
The "March of the Three Kings" that Bizet used in L'Arlesienne was a mid-thirteenth century crusaders' hymn.
"Of Parental Love Begotten" may have the oldest pedigree. Its tune is a plainsong melody found in manuscripts as early as the tenth century. The words, "Corde Natus ex Parentis", are from a poem by Prudentius, written in the fourth century.