A Christmas Processional

The melody for this Christmas hymn was originally published in the 1582 Finnish song book Piae Cantiones, a volume of seventy-four medieval songs with Latin texts. The book had its origins in the libraries of cathedral choir schools, whose repertory had strong links with medieval Prague, where clerical students from Finland and Sweden had studied for generations.

The carol became more prominent in England after being arranged for unison voices and orchestra in 1916 by Gustav Holst (1874–1934); it is often used in the UK as a processional hymn in church and cathedral services. Holst's version also often forms part of the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols held annually in King's College Chapel, Cambridge. The most common English translation of the text is by Jane M. Joseph (1894–1929), using her pseudonym, James M. Joseph. She translates the title as ‘on this day earth shall ring’; the carol is closely associated with Holy Innocents’ Day, which falls on 28th December in the western Church.

Philip Sparke has based this arrangement for band on the powerful Holst arrangement, while adding introductory material and a descant in the last verse.