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Warrell arranged the tune for his own University of Bristol Madrigal Singers, and performed it with them in concert on December 6, 1935. That same year, his elaborate four-part arrangement was published by Oxford University Press, under the title "A Merry Christmas: West Country traditional song". The earlier history of the carol is unclear. The origin of this Christmas carol lies in the English tradition wherein wealthy people of the community gave Christmas treats to the carolers on Christmas Eve, such as "figgy pudding" that was very much like modern-day Christmas puddings. A variety of nineteenth-century sources state that, in the West Country of England, "figgy pudding" referred to a raisin or plum pudding, not necessarily one containing figs.