The English Carol Book

First Series, 1913

Martin Shaw and Percy Dearmer , Editors
(London: A. R. Mowbray & Co., Ltd., 1913)

See: Second Series and Complete Edition

Table of Contents

1. A Child This Day Is Born

2. A Virgin Most Pure, As The Prophet Do Tell

3. Angelus ad Virginem (Came The Archangel To The Maid)

4. As Up The Wood I Took My Way

5. The Babe in Bethleem's Manger Laid

6. The Cherry Tree Carol (Joseph Was An Old Man - Version 3)

7. Christ Is Born

8. Corpus Christi Carol (Over Yonder's A Park Which Is Newly Begun)

9. The First Nowell That The Angel Did Say

10. This New Christmas Carrol

11. God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen (First Version & Second Version)

12. God's Dear Son Without Beginning - Version 1

13. Good King Wenceslas Looked Out

14. Here We Come A-Wassailing (The Wassail Song - Version 1)

15. The Holly And The Ivy

16. The Holly Well (As It Fell Out One May Morning)

17. Hominum Laudes (Christ, Hath Christ's Mother)

18. I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing In - First Version [Version 2 is in the Second Series]

19. In Dulci Jubilo - Woodward

20. Jacobs Ladder (As Jacob With Travel)

21. Tschaikowsky's Legend: The Crown Of Roses (When Jesus Christ Was Yet A Child)

22. The New Adam (The Lord At First Had Adam Made)

23. The Praise Of Christmas (Drive The Cold Winter Away)

24. Remember, O Thou Man - Version 2

25. The Salutation Carol (Nowell, Nowell ... This Is The Salutation)

26. The Seven Joys Of Mary - Version 2 (The First Good Joy Out Mary Had)

27. The Snow Lies Thick Upon The Earth

28. Three Kings In Great Glory of Horses and Men

29. Unto Us Is Born A Son

30 The Waits' Song (The Moon Shines Bright)

31. When Jesus Christ Was Twelve Years Old

32. When Righteous Joseph Wedded Was


Introduction by Martin Shaw

Is is a remarkable thing that the Victorian era -- which produced, in the ordinary way of business, a book with such beautiful and appropriate wood-cuts as those contained in a popular volume of Carols now lying before me -- should have produced no musician willing to arrange the tunes for choral use in a manner corresponding to the sturdy peasant-note which is so characteristic of them; no musician, indeed, who could even perceive that a folk-tune is a different thing from a sentimental part-song like "Sweet and Low."

This was typical of the taste of the 'seventies, when churchgoers could apparently fix their minds on the highest things of all, and at the same time cheerfully submit to whatever banality in the shape of chant, hymn, anthem, or service, might be produced by those who were supposed to guard the traditions of ecclesiastical song. It would be pleasant to add that we have changed all that. But to do so might, I am afraid, be saying too much.

There seem, however, indications that a change in popular taste is at hand. Much discontent undoubtedly exists, and the founding of the Church Music Society, the Folk-Song Society, and the Summer School of Church Music, and the appearance of the English Hymnal [1906], are welcome signs of a new era.

It is with hope, then, that the time is ripe for an attempt to be made to present our national Carols in a manly and fitting way that the present collection is offered to the public.

The present volume contains the well-known English traditional Carols and tunes, arranged for Choral use, together with a few which appear for the first time.

Our thanks are due to the Rev. G. R. Woodward and the publishers of the Cowley Carol Book (an excellent collection on different lines from the present book, in that it is a collection of the best foreign Christmas Noels and songs), for permission to use two of his translations; to Miss Nan Knowles, for clerical help; to the Rev. Gabriel Gillett, for his new translation of "Angelus ad Virginem"; to Mr. Geoffrey Dearmer, for his translation of the "Legeng"; to Mr. Selwyn Image, for his contributions of original Carols, specially written for the present book; to Dr. Baughan Williams, for his setting of the Salutation Carol; to Mr. Mackmurdo, for permission to use the late Lionel Johnson's Carol, "Hominum Laudes"; to Mr. Frank Kidson, for communicating the words and tune of No. 23 [The Praise of Christmas: All Hail To The Days That Merit More Praise];  and to my brother Geoffrey, for his two new Carol tunes and for his settings of old Carol tunes, and for his valuable advice and help throughout. Except where otherwise stated, the arrangements of the tunes are by me.

Introduction by Percy Dearmer

It is intended that there should be two or three different strands in this collection. The main strand is the traditional English Carol, the religious folk-song of our people; but there are also a few of the most beautiful Carols of other countries, translated into English, and a few also by modern writers, since it is a good thing to keep an art alive, and to add a little that is new to the old, if the new be worthy, as it seems to me to be in this case. Some modern writers have written find Carols, notably Mr. Selwyn Image; and some have written tunes which have the true ring. Moreover, in some cases, new work is necessary because the original tune of an old Carol has been lost, and in some there are no English words to a tune. It will also be noticed that a certain number of the old Carols in this volume are well known, and others hardly known at all. Both kinds should be welcome; and all, I think, are beautiful.

The Folk Carols have often been preserved in more than once version; and doubtless, if the words of every company of wassailers had been taken down, they would never have been quite the same. There is thus no authentic "text"; and here and there we have put in a missing word which is needed for the singing, and was indeed probably sung. But otherwise we have not interfered with the originals, except occasionally to omit a verse. They are often rough and quaint, and do not always fit into our present ideas of grammar; but they are true and sweet, with the proper quality of real songs (which are like the strings of an instrument ready for their music), and with a certain tender and mellow humanity. Like the ancient buildings round which they were sung, these Folk Carols would only be spoilt by attempts at reconstruction or embellishment.

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