According to the headline on the BBC News website, ‘Popular carols “have folks roots”’, and it goes on to ‘reveal’ that until the eighteenth century Christmas carols were considered too secular to be sung in church. The report implies that these revelations are the result of recent research by a Durham academic. In fact, these are not revelations but common knowledge among churchgoers and singers. If you want ample evidence of the folk roots of carols, you merely have to take a casual glance inside the Oxford Book of Carols.
At a stroke the BBC newshounds display their ignorance of the religious history of their own country and present what was probably a perfectly reasonable piece of research as vaguely ridiculous