The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Old English Carols From the Hill MS.

The Richard Hill Commonplace Book

Balliol College MS. 354

Edited and Translated by Jessie L. Weston.

London: David Nutt, 1911.

The Preface Is Below

Table of Contents

Carol #

Page

Verse First Line

Burden First Line

I

1

Tidings True Be Come Anew

Nowell, Nowell, Nowell, Nowell !

II

3

From Heaven Was Sent An Angel of Light

Now should we sing, and say Nowell

III

5

Gabriel, Of High Degree

Nova, Nova, Ave fit ex Eva!

IV

7

A Virgin Pure, Of This Be Sure

Both Great and Small Now Let Us Sing

V

8

Gabriel, That Angel Bright

Now sing we, sing we, | Regina coeli letare !

VI

9

Mary, The Flower Of Flowers All

Now sing we all with joy and bliss,

VII

11

This Night To Us A Child Is Born

At this time this song is best, | Verbum Caro ffactus est!

VIII

12

Who This Babe, Oh ! Maiden Fair

Mater, ora Filium

IX

14

A Lovely Lady Sat and Sung

This very night I saw a sight

X

18

Today Hath God Of His Mercie

Make we merry in hall and bower

XI

19

Out Of The East A Star Shone Bright

Rejoice all ye who be here present, | Omnes de Saba venient !

XII

21

There Sprang A Flower From Out A Thorn

Alleluia, Alleluia ! Deo Patri sit Gloria !

XIII

23

That Flower is fresh and fair in hue

There Is A Flower Sprung From A Tree

XIV

25

Hearken To Me Both Old And Young

All of a Rose, a lovely Rose

XV

27

There Is A Child Of Mary Born

Conditur alme siderum

XVI

28

A Babe Is Born Who Bliss Shall Bring

Now sing we all cum Angelis, Gloria in Excelsis !

XVII

31

Into The World This Day Did Come

I pray you be merry and sing with me

XVIII

32

Now Unto Us A Babe Is Born

Now sing we a good song, I wis, | Quod puer natus est nobis

XIX

34

The Shepherd Upon A Hill He Sat

What shall I sing but Hoy,
When the jolly shepherd made so much joy ?

XX

37

About The Field They Piped Full Right

Tirly, Tirlow, Tirly, Tirlow

XXI

39

Now Joy We All In The Trinitie

Wassail, Wassail, Wassail, sing we 
In honour of Christ's Nativitie!

XXII

41

Lift Up Your Hearts And Be Ye Glad

What cheer ? Good cheer, good cheer !

XXIII

42

To Thee Who Wast Christ's Own Darling

Pray for us to the Prince of Peace, | Amice Christi Johannes!

XXIV

43

Here Have I Dwelt In Joyfulness

Now have Good-day, now have Good-day, | I am Christmas, and I must go my way !

 

 Preface

The Carols here printed are taken from the Hill Collection (Balliol, MS. 354). This is the common-place book of one Richard Hill, a tradesman of the City of London, written in the early part of the 16th century. Much of the matter contained in it is, however, of earlier date. The contents are very miscellaneous, consisting of pieces in prose and verse lyrical, didactic, and satirical recipes, lists of names of the City officials, in fact, anything that for one reason or another interested the compiler.

The lyrical contents of the MS. were printed by Professor Flügel in Anglia, Vol. XXVI (1903). Having occasion to consult the collection, I was much struck by the number of Carols which it contained, and the great charm of many of these Carols. It seemed to me that it would be well to introduce them to a wider public. Carols are, nowadays, so popular that anything that widens our field of choice can hardly be other than welcome.

Almost all of those here printed may be freely used to-day ; although certain of them, like the beautiful This endris night, and All of a Rose, a lovely Rose, are more poems than carols. Still, as these have not hitherto been published in a modernised version, I have thought well to include them.

Of those selected I have simply modernised the language, corrected the rhyme (frequently very irregular), and here and there supplied missing words or lines. As they now stand they faithfully represent the form in which they were sung by our forefathers centuries ago, and in that form, I trust, they may be welcome to their descendants of to-day.

JESSIE L. WESTON.
PARIS, May 1911.

Editor's Note:

There was a reference in the Preface to Ewald Flügel, ed., “Liedersammlungen des XVI Jahrhunderts, Besonders Aus Der Zeit Heinrichs VIII. III. 6. Die lieder des Balliol Ms. 354,” in Eugen Einenkel, ed., Anglia - Zeitschrift für englische Philologie enthaltend Beitrage zur Geschlicht der englischen Sprache und Literatur. Band XXVI. (Halle: Max Niemeyer, 1903), pp. 94-285. Copies are available at Internet Archive and Google Books.

The Hill Manuscript was also extensively explored in Roman Dyboski, ed. Songs, Carols and Other Miscellaneous Poems from the Balliol MS. 354, Richard Hill’s Commonplace Book. Early English Text Society Extra Series No. CI (London: Published for the Early English Text Society by Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., Ltd., 1907, issued in 1908). Over 103 songs of great variety, including 62 "sacred songs and carols." Available at Internet Archive and Google Books.

See also Richard L. Greene, The Early English Carols (Oxford, 1935).

Information about the Balliol College MS. 354, including Images, is available on-line at Early Manuscripts at Oxford University.

And see the Digital Index of Middle English Verse  (DIMEV) record, Balliol Ms 354.

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