“The New Dial” & Twelfth Night

Surprising tidbits about the song…

It is possible that “The Twelve Days of Christmas” has been confused with (or is a transformation of) a song dating from the 1600’s, called “A New Dial” (also known as “In Those Twelve Days”). The New Dial assigns religious meanings to each of the twelve days of Christmas (but not for the purposes of teaching a catechism). In a manner somewhat similar to the memory-and-forfeits performance of “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” the song “A New Dial” was recited in a question-and-answer format.

It has also been said that perhaps the song was written as a kind of Catholic catechism for learning particular doctrines of the church. These claims hold very little water however. (Thank you snopes.com).

For your next “Memory & Forfeits Game”, I offer you, The New Dial, to play on Twelfth Night (the night before Epiphany on January 6th). 

What are they that are but one?
We have one God alone
In heaven above sits on His throne.What are they which are but two?
Two testaments, the old and new,
We do acknowledge to be true.What are they which are but three?
Three persons in the Trinity
Which make one God in unity.

What are they which are but four?
Four sweet Evangelists there are,
Christ’s birth, life, death which do declare.

What are they which are but five?
Five senses, like five kings, maintain
In every man a several reign.

What are they which are but six?
Six days to labor is not wrong,
For God himself did work so long.

What are they which are but seven?
Seven liberal arts hath God sent down
With divine skill man’s soul to crown.What are they which are but eight?
Eight Beatitudes are there given
Use them right and go to heaven.What are they which are but nine?
Nine Muses, like the heaven’s nine spheres,
With sacred tunes entice our ears.

What are they which are but ten?
Ten statutes God to Moses gave
Which, kept or broke, do spill or save.

What are they which are but eleven?
Eleven thousand virgins did partake
And suffered death for Jesus’ sake.

What are they which are but twelve?
Twelve are attending on God’s son;
Twelve make our creed. The Dial’s done.

If you’re going to have a Twelfth Night party to celebrate Christ’s appearance to the Magi (which is what the next feast on the Church Calendar–Epiphany–I’d love to hear how you mark the occasion.

Whatever you do or however you mark the day (or evening) we have reason to rejoice–our King Jesus was revealed to the Gentiles when the Wise Men came across the desert to see the babe in a manger.

Because of Gaspar, Balthasar and Melchior who shared their message far and wide after their visit, we can today find Christ for ourselves. He is as near as our own hearts if we would give Him room.

I want to make room for Jesus this year. How about you?


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