William Walton, in 1961, set a 16th century poem to a jolly tune.

Walton, often mentioned in the same breath (or at least the same sentence) as Ralph Vaughan Williams and Benjamin Britten, was a choir boy growing up.

What cheer? Good cheer!
Be merry and glad this good New Year!

Lift up your hearts and be glad
In Christ’s birth, the angel bade,
Say each to other, if any be sad,
What cheer?

Now the King of heaven his birth hath take,
Joy and mirth we ought to make;
Say each to other, for his sake,
What cheer?

I tell you all with heart so free,
Right welcome, welcome, ye be to me;
Be glad and merry, for charity!

What cheer? Good cheer!
Be merry and glad this good New Year!

Naturally, the Christmas songs of the 1960s that people hear most often are “Holly Jolly Christmas” and “Little St. Nick.”