John Larrysson Column: Deck the Halls (Part 2 of 2)
To Troll a Christmas Song

Last week I started my explanation of the popular and traditional Christmas song Deck the Halls. Here is the second half.


Troll the ancient Yuletide carol,


Fa la la la la, la la la la.


There are several meanings for the word troll: a Norse monster, a method of fishing, the act of walking around (similar to stroll) and to sing a song as a round. To sing a song as a round, different singers begin at slightly different times. Some people have been misspelling troll as toll. The sound a bell makes is its toll (15th Century). It is an older meaning, but people sing a troll (14th Century). A carol is a joyful religious song. (Recently a monstrous troll is someone who makes offensive and anonymous comments online to get attention and trolling is such behaviour.)

Yule means Christmas, although it was an earlier heathen Norse midwinter feast. Christianity has taken over the word. The word tide in this song is an older word for a time-period. So this line means to sing the joyful old Christmas-time song with different starting times.

audio 1


See the blazing Yule before us,


Fa la la la la, la la la la.


In this line the Yule is a large Christmas log at the centre of the fireplace. Smaller sticks would be needed to get it burning, but once on fire it would provide light and heat all evening. Recently it is also a cake, shaped and decorated like a log.


Strike (play) the harp and join the chorus (people singing).


Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Follow me in merry measure (musical rhythm),

Fa la la la la, la la la la.

While I tell of Yuletide (Christmas time) treasure (presents)

Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Fast away (quickly) the old year passes (dies)

Fa la la la la, la la la la.



audio 2


Hail the new, ye lads and lasses,


Fa la la la la, la la la la.


The word hail means to welcome (the new year). The word ye is the old nominative second-person plural of the objective word you. It is rarely used today, except when one wants to sound traditional. Lads are boys and lasses are girls.


Sing we joyous (happy), all together,


Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Heedless of (ignoring) the wind and weather,

Fa la la la la, la la la la.


Now you know what the words mean. Sing it with your class, friends and family. Enjoy your midwinter celebrations in the warmth of your home and school. Have a merry Yuletide.

audio 3

[email protected] John Larrysson

A native English speaker who has been teaching practical English in Hong Kong for more than a decade.


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