Corpus Christi Carol

Corpus Christi Carol

Corpus Christi Carol

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Description:
Corpus Christi Carol is a Middle or Early Modern English hymn (or carol), first found by an apprentice grocer named Richard Hill in a manuscript written around 1504. The original writer of the carol remains anonymous.

The structure of the carol is seven stanzas, each with rhyming couplets. The use of seven stanzas probably has religious significance. Seven is a number that is considered perfect, which would make sense as Christ is mentioned in the seventh stanza. It is also interesting to note that the tense changes in the fifth stanza from past to present continuous.

Meaning

One theory about the meaning of the carol is that it is concerned with the legend of the Holy Grail. In Arthurian traditions of the Grail story, the Fisher King is the knight who is the Grail's protector, and whose legs are perpetually wounded. When he is wounded his kingdom suffers and becomes a wasteland. This would explain the reference to "an orchard brown".

The text may be an allegory in which the crucified is described as a wounded knight. The bleeding knight could be Christ who bleeds for the sins of humanity endlessly. Christ is most probably represented as a knight as he is battling sin and evil by his continual pain. The "orchard brown" to which the knight was conveyed becomes, in this reading, the "orchard" of wooden crosses that covered the hill of Golgotha/Calvary where Christ - along with many others - was Crucified,...
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