Christmas Quiz: Name that Carol!

Here is a short festive quiz based on the lyrics of the top 30 carols on the website. The challenge is to identify the carol from words that appear only in the lyrics of that carol and no other. So “merrily”, for example, only appears in one carol (clue: Ding Dong). It is just for fun – there is no prize other than a smug feeling and whatever you decide to reward yourself with!

I wrote a short program in R to read the main page, find the links to the carol pages, and then read each of those pages, and extract the lyrics. I split the lyrics into words, counted the number of times each appeared, and removed any used more than once. I then linked each word with its carol, as well as noting how far into the carol it appears. The words in the quiz all appear towards the beginning (mainly in the first verse) – I don’t expect many of us know the obscure later verses!

The carols used were the following…

Angels from the Realms of Glory
Ave Maria
Away in a Manger
Carol of the Bells
Christians Awake
Deck the Halls
Ding Dong Merrily on High
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
Good Christian Men Rejoice
Good King Wenceslas
Hark the Herald Angels Sing
I Saw Three Ships
It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
Jingle Bells
Joy to the World

O Christmas Tree
O Come All Ye Faithful
O Come O Come Emmanuel
O Holy Night
O Little Town of Bethlehem
Once in Royal David’s City
Silent Night
The 12 Days of Christmas
The First Noel
The Holly and the Ivy
The Wassail Song
We Three Kings
We wish you a Merry Christmas
While Shepherds Watched
White Christmas

The Quiz

Each of the following words appears only once in the lyrics of the above carols. For each word, identify the carol in which it appears. The answers can be found by hovering your mouse over the superscript number following each word, or by scrolling to the bottom of the page.

Good luck!

  1. Crisp 1
  2. Dashing 2
  3. Moor 3
  4. Shed 4
  5. Dismay 5
  6. Dread 6
  7. Mercy 7
  8. Dreamless 8
  9. Calm 9
  10. Sheep 10

Merry Christmas,
and all the best for 2021!

Cite this article as: Gustar, A.J. 'Christmas Quiz: Name that Carol!' in Statistics in Historical Musicology, 22nd December 2020,
  1. Good King Wenceslas
  2. Jingle Bells
  3. We Three Kings
  4. Once in Royal David’s City
  5. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
  6. While Shepherds Watched
  7. Hark the Herald Angels Sing
  8. O Little Town of Bethlehem
  9. Silent Night
  10. The First Noel

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