“Souling” refers to when singers went about on All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, November 1 and 2, to beg for cakes in remembrance of the dead. The “soulers,” as the singers were called, droned out their ditties repeatedly, tonelessly, without pause or variation. Shakespeare was familiar with the whining songs because Speed, in Two Gentlemen of Verona, observes tartly that one of the “special marks” of a man in love is “to speak puling, like a beggar at Hallowmas.”

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