The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Dayly In Englond Mervels Be Fownd

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 #57, 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.

Nova, nova, sawe yow ever such,
The moste mayster of the hows weryth no brych.

    Dayly in Englond mervels be fownd,
And among maryd peple have such radicacyon,,
    Qwych to the uttermost expresse may no throng,
No pene cane scribull the totall declaracyon;
For women upon them tak such domynacyon,
    And upon them self thei tak so mych,
    That it causyth the mayster to abuse a brych.

    Syns that Eve was procreat owt of Adams syde,
Cowd not such newels in this lond be inventyd;
    The masculyn sex with rygurnesse and prid
With ther femals thei altercatt, ther self beyng schentyd,
And of ther owne self the corag is abatyd.
    Wherfor it is not acordyng to syth to mych,
    Lest the most mayster may wer no brych.

    Yet it sene dayly both in borows and towyns,
Whereas the copuls han mad objurgacyon,
    The gowdwyff ful humanly to hyr spowse gave gownys,
Wych [th]yng is oryginat of so gret presumpeyon,
That oftentymys the goodman is fal in a consumpeyon;
    Wherfor, as I seyd, suffer not to mych,
    Lest the most mayster weryth no brych.

    Nat only in Englond, but of every nacion,
The femynyng wyl presume men forto gyd;
    Yet God at the tym of Adams creacyon
Gave man superiorite of them in every tyd.
But now in theys women is fyxyd such pryd,
    And upon them self wyl tak so mych,
    That it constreynyth the most mayster to wer no brych.

    But mayny women be ryght dylygent,
And so demuer ther husbondes aforne,
    For of cryme or faut thei be innocent;
Butt falser than thei husbondes thei wyl so dorne,
    That owther thei wyl make hym no thyng rych,
    Or ellys the most mayster to wer no brych.

    An adamant stone it is not frangebyll
With no thyng but with mylke of a gett;
    So a woman to refrayne it is not posybyll
With wordes, except with a staffe thou hyr intrett.
For he that for a fawt hys wyff wyl not bett,
    Wherin sche offendyt hym very mych,
    The gyder of hys hows must nedes wer no brych.

    A scald hed maye be coveryd and not sene;
And many thynges mo may be sone hyddyn;
    But the hod of a syr, ye wott what I mene,
Wych with too hornys infeckyd was and smyttyn,
But surgery to be helyd it is forbyddyn.
    For thei have such an yssue abow the cheke,
    That it constereynth the most mayster to wer no bryke.

    Wherfor ye maryd men that with wyvys to be acommoryd,
Dysplease nott yowr wyvys whom that ye have;
    For whan thei be angry or sumwhatt dysplesyd,
Thei wyl gyffe a man a mark that he xal ber it to hys grafe;
Whobeit ther husbondes honeste to save
    Clokydly withowt thei obey very mych,
    And inwerdly the most mayster were no brych.

    Was not Adam, Hercules and mythy Sampson,
Davyd the king, with other many mo,
    Arystotyll, Vergyll, by a woman's cavylacion,
Browt to iniquyte and to mych woo?
Wherfor ye maryd men ordur ye soo,
    That with yowr wyfvys yow stryfe not to mych,
    Lest the most mayster wer no brych.


Note from Wright:

Arystotyll, Vergyll. An allusion to the popular medieval legends of the philosopher and the poet, both of whom were there represented to have been seduced and deceived by the fair sex.

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