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Sheet Music: The Twelve Days of Christmas

TitleThe Twelve Days of Christmas
Alternate titlesThe 12 Days of Christmas
A Partridge in a Pear Tree
ComposerTraditional
InstrumentationFlute solo
KeyG major
RangeD4–E5
Time signature4/4
Tempo120 BPM
Performance time3:40
Difficulty leveleasy
Download printable scorePDF Sheet Music (70 kB) (preview)
Download audio tracksMIDI (5 kB) MP3 (2.7 MB)
Date added2009-11-18
Last updated2009-11-18
CategoriesChristmas carols, Traditional/Folk

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Saturday 26 December 2009

Tune of the Day: The Twelve Days of Christmas

Traditional Christmas carol

Contrary to much popular belief, the ”twelve days of Christmas” are not the twelve days before Christmas, but the twelve days from the day after Christmas (December 26) to the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6, or the Twelfth Day). Although the carol was first published in England in 1780, textual evidence may indicate that the song is actually French in origin.

It is a cumulative song, meaning that each verse is built on top of the previous verses. There are twelve verses, each describing a gift given by “my true love” on one of the twelve days of Christmas.

Unlike most popular music, the time signature of this song is not constant. The introductory lines are made up of two 4/4 bars, while most of the lines naming gifts receive one 3/4 bar per gift, with the exception of “Five gold(en) rings”. Another peculiar aspect about this song is how the second through fourth verses (before the song gets to the “five golden rings”) use a different melody than in the fifth through twelfth verses.