...In a Pear tree

What in the world
do leaping lords, French hens, swimming swans,
and especially the partridge
who won't come out of the pear tree have to do
with Christmas?

From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England
were not permitted to
practice their faith openly. Someone during that
era wrote this carol as
a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two
levels of meaning: the
surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only
to members of their
church. Each element in the carol has a code word
for a religious reality
which the children could remember.

* The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.
* Two turtledoves were the Old and New
* Three French hens stood for faith, hope and
* The four calling birds were the four gospels of
Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.
* The five golden rings recalled the Torah or
Law, the first five books of
the Old Testament.
* The six geese a-laying stood for the six days
of creation.
* Seven swans a-swimming represented the
sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit:
Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation,
Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.
* The eight maids a-milking were the eight
* Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the
Holy Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace,
Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness,
Gentleness, and Self Control.
* The ten lords a-leaping were the ten
* The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven
faithful disciples.
* The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the
twelve points of belief in the
Apostles' Creed.

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