The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

The Best Tre, If e Tak Entent

Words and Music: Traditional English

Source: Thomas Wright, Songs and Carols Now First Printed, From a Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century (London: The Percy Society, 1847), Song #50, printed verbatim from a manuscript probably owned by a professional musician, and apparently written in the latter half of the fifteenth century, circa 1471-1485.

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The best tre, if e tak entent
    Inter ligna fructifera,
Is the vyne tre, by good argument,
    Dulcia ferens pondera.

Sent Luke seyth in hys gospell,
    Arbor fructu noscitur.
The vyne beryth wyne, as I 3ow tell,
    Hic aliis preponitur.

The fyrst that plantyd the vynnayard,
    Manet in cele gaudio;
Hys name was Noe, as I am lernyd
    Genesis testimonio.

God gave unto hym knowyng and wytte,
    A quo precedunt omnia,
Fyrst of the grape wyne for to gytte,
    Propter magna misteria.

Melchisedech mad offeryng,
    Dando licorem vinium,
Ful myghtyly sacryfyyng
    Altaris sacrificium.

The fyrst of myraculs that Jhesu dyd
    Eras in vino rubeo,
In Cana Galylee ther it betyd,
    Testante Evangelio.

He changyd the watur into wyne,
    Aque rubescunt idrie,
And bad gyve it to Archetriclyne,
    Ut gustet tune primarie.

Lyke as the rose excedyth all flowres
    Inter cunta florigera,
Soo doyth wyn other lycurs,
    Dans multa salutifera.

David, the profyte, sayth that wyne
    Letificat cor hominis,
It makyth men mery if it be fyne,
    Est ero digni nominis.

The malycoly fumosytesse,
    Que generant tristiciam,
It causyth frome the hert to resse,
    Tollens omnem mesticiam.

The fryst chaptur specyfyeth
    Libri Ecclesiastici,
That wyn is musyke of conyng delyeth,
    Letifican cor clerici,

Surs, yf 3e wyll see boys
    De disciplina scolarium,
Ther xall ye fynd withowten mysse
    Quod vinum acuit ingenium.

Fryst when Ipocras schuld dyspute
    Cum viris sapientibus,
Gud wyne befor was hys prefute,
    Acumen prebens sensibus.

It qwykynyth a manys sprytes in hys mynd,
    Audaciam dat loquentibus;
Yf the wyne be good and well fynd,
    Prodest sobrie bibentibus.

Good wyne receyvyd moderatly
    Mox cerebrum letificat;
Drunkyn alsoo soberly,
    Omne membrum fortificat.

Naturall hete well it strenggthes,
    Digestionem roborans;
Helth of body also it lengthes,
    Naturam humanam prosperans.

Good wyne provokes a man to swete,
    Et plena lavat viscera;
It makyth a man wel to ete his mete,
    Facitque corda prospera.

It noryssyth, if it be good,
    Facit ut esset jurenis;
It gather to hymn jentyl blood,
    Nam purgat venas sanguinis.

Me thynkyth, syrs, by thes causys,
    Que sunt racionabiles,
That wyne is best of all drynkkys
    Inter potus notabiles.

Fyl the cop wele, bealeamy,
    Potum mihi jam ingere;
I have seyd tyll my lyppes by dry,
    Vellem vinem nunc bibere.

Gentyll blood loveth gentyll drynk,
    Simile amat simile:
Fyll the copy by the brynk,
    Parum manebit bibere.

Wyne drynkers, with grett honoure,
    Semper laudate Dominum:
The wych sendys this licoure,
    Propter salutem hominem.

Plente to all that love good wynes
    Donet Dues hoc largius,
And bryng them self, when thei go hens.
    Ubi non siciant amplius.

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