The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Verbum caro factum est de virgine

For Christmas

Also saved as In hoc anni circulo

Words: Anonymous, "Probably of the XIIth Century"
See In hoc anni circulo and In Hoc Anni Circulo-Du Meril, 1854
Compare: See the Word Our Flesh Become (“Verbum caro factum est”)

In The Ending Of The Year - Version 1 by John Mason Neale from Carols for Christmas-tide
In The Ending Of The Year -  Version 2 by John Mason Neale Alt. by George R. Woodward
In The Ending Of The Year - Version 3 by John Mason Neale, Medieval Hymns

See: Theodoric Petri, ed., Piae Cantiones Ecclesiasticĉ Et Scholasticae Et Scholasticae Vetervm Episcoporum (Gyphisuualdiĉ: Augustinum Ferberum, 1582), and Christmas Songs in Woodward's Piĉ Cantiones (1910)

Source: Rev. George R. Woodward, ed., Piĉ Cantiones. A Collection of Church & School Song. (London: Printed at the Chiswick Press for the Plainsong & Medieval Music Society, 1910) , #2, pp. 2-3.

Verbum caro factum est de virgine,
verbum caro factum est de virgine Maria.

1. In hoc anni circulo vita datur seculo:
nato nobis paruulo de virgine:
nato nobis paruulo de virgine Maria.

2. O beata fœmina, cuius ventris gloria
Mundi lauat crimina: de virgine Maria.

3. Stella solem protulit, sol salutem contulit,
Carnem veram abstulit de virgine Maria.

4. Fons de suo riuulo nascitur pro populo,
Quem tulit de vinculo: de virgine Maria.

5. Laus, honor, virtus, Domino Deo Patri & Filio,
Sancto simul Parcleto: de virgine Maria.

Also occurs in G. E. Klemming, ed., Piae Cantiones. S. Trinitas. Iesus Christus. S. Spiritus. S Maria. (1886), pp. 53-54, "P. C. 3."

Editor's Note:

Klemming's note refers to Piae Cantiones (1582), p. 3. The version given by Klemming also occurred in Petri, Piĉ Cantiones (1582), below.

Du Méril, "Poesies,", pp. 337-338 (19 verses)

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Mone, "Lateinische," pp. 65-66 (1 version with 12 verses)

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Wackernagel I (1864), pp. 163-165 (3 versions with 20, 12, and 11 verses, respectively).

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Theodoric Petri, ed., Piĉ Cantiones Ecclesiasticae et Scholasticae Veterum Episcoporum. (Gyphisuualdiĉ: Augustinum Ferberum, 1582), pp. 16-17.

Sheet Music and Notes from Rev. George R. Woodward, ed., Piĉ Cantiones. A Collection of Church & School Song,  chiefly Ancient Swedish, originally Published in A. D. 1582 by Theodoric Petri of Nyland. (London: Printed at the Chiswick Press for the Plainsong & Medieval Music Society, 1910), Carol #2, pp.  2-3 (five verses and refrain), Notes pp. 205-206.

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See: The Christmas Songs in Woodward's Piĉ Cantiones (1910)

Sheet Music from Richard R. Terry, Old Christmas Carols. Part One. (London: Burns, Oates & Washbourne Ltd., n.d., ca. 1923), Carol #31, pp. 42-43.

Sheet Music from Richard Runciman Terry, Two Hundred Folk Carols (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Limited, 1933), Carol #166, pp. 14-15.

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Julian, Dict. of Hymnology (1907), p. 1216 (ii).

Verbum caro factum est, Ex virgine Maria. [Christmas.] This hymn exists in a great variety of texts. Leaving out of account the varieties of reading, which are very considerable, we may reckon at least five different forms. The two lines above are used in some cases as the introduction, and line 2 as the refrain.

i. The earliest form known is in a manuscript in the Bibl. Nat. Paris (Lat., 1139, f. 48, in a hand of the 12th cent.), and thence in E. du Méril's Poésies inedites du Moyen Age, Paris, 1854, p. 337 [See In Hoc Anni Circulo-Du Meril, 19 verses]. This form is partly in Latin and partly in Provenςal French. The Latin stanzas are:—
1. In hoc anni circulo.
2. Fons de suo rivulo.
3. Quod vetustas suffocat.
4. Sine viri copula
5. Summi patris filio.
6. Animal impositum.
7. O beata fetnina.
8. Illi laus et gloria.

ii. Mone, No. 50, prints it from a manuscript of the 15th cent, in the town library at Trier. The stanzas there are 1, 2, 7, 8, and the following:—
9. Stella solem protulit.
10. Virgine de regia.
11. Inpraesepe ponitur.
12. O pastores currite.
13. Puer circumciditur.
14. Reges tres de gentibus.
15. Die hac sanctissima.
16. Ex divino flamine.

iii. Hoffmann von Fallersleben, 1861, No. 169, gives a German translation (beginning "In des jares zirclikeit") from a Munich manuscript of 1421. This has 15 stanzas, and represents 1, 2, 3, 9, 4, 7, 11, 12, 13, 14, 8, of the Latin, and also
17. Joseph natofruitur.
18. Ab angelis concinitur.
19. Aurum regi regnaturo.
20. O Jesu dulcissime.

iv. G. M. Dreves, in his Cantiones Bohemicae, 1886, p. 43 [Vol. 45b], cites it as in two manuscripts now at Prag; the first being in the Bohemian Museum, and the second in the University Library. The first, written about 1420, has Stanzas 1, 3, 7, 10, 14, 19, 8, and also
21. Adam pomo vescitur.
22. Noe pro diluvio.
23. Serpens ille callidus.
24. O prompta humilitas.
25. Ergo nostra concio.

The second, written about 1510, has 1, 3, 21, 22, 23, 9, 13, 14, 19, 25, 8.

v. Mone, No. 387, has a form in 29 stanzas from manuscripts of the 15th cent, at Venice, and the same form is in a manuscript in the Bibl. Nat., Paris (Fonds Italiens, No. 559, f. 107), also written in Italy in the 15th cent. In the Paris manuscript it is given as by Jacobus de Benedictis. The text, as Mone prints it, has stanzas 1,3, 9, 2, 4, 7, 11, 17, 18, 14, 19, 12, 13, 24, 10, 20, 8, as above. The remaining 12 st. of this text need not here be noted.

vi. Wackernagel, 1841, No. 54, gives it from Leisentritt's Gesangbuch (R. C), 1567. There it is in 14 Stanzas, viz. 1, 3, 21, 22, 23, 9, 4, 13, 7, 10, 11, 18, 17, 25.

From this summary it is pretty clear that No. i, is the original, and that Nos. ii. and iii. are forms which were current in Germany in the 14th cent. Stanzas 21-25 seem also to belong to the 14th cent. Stanza 25 might be attached to any hymn of the same metre, and is found in some forms of the "Puer natus" (p. 940, i.). The remaining 12 stanzas of No. v. were probably written in Italy. It may be added that ii. is also in Daniel, iv. p. 157 ; and vi. in Daniel, i. No. 477, and Neale's Hymni Ecclesiĉ, 1851, p. 74. See also Wackernagel, i., Nos. 264-266. The text as in Daniel, i. No. 477, beginning In hoc anni circulo, was translated, omitting stanzas vii., x., xi., by Dr. Neale, in his Medieval Hymns, 1851, p. 106, as "In the ending of the Year." This was repeated in the 1867 edition of the Hymnal Noted, and in The Office Hymn Book, 1889. [J. M.]


Notes by Rev. George R. Woodward, pp. 205-206:

II. In Hoc Anni Circulo, with its refrain Verbum Caro Factum Est.

The earliest known form is given by E. Du Méril in his 'Poésies inédites du Moyen Age' (1854), P. 337. It occurs in a manuscript in handwriting of the twelfth century, in the Bibl. Nat., Paris (Lat. 1139, f. 48), partly in the Latin tongue and partly in Provençal. Over and above the information given by Julian in his 'Dictionary of Hymnology' (1907), p. 1216 (ii) under Verbum caro factum est, q.v., it may be added that Dreves discovered it in a manuscript of the thirteenth century, the 'Antiphonarium Bobbiense' (Cod. Taurinen. f I 14); see 'Anal. Hymnica,' XX, p. 22.

Editor's Note: The reference to Dreves, "Anal. Hymnica," Vol. XX, p. 22, is merely a listing of hymns, with their refrains. No full text is given, and neither is there a reference to where a copy of the text can be seen.

In the preface to Neale and Helmore's 'Carols for Christmas-tide' (1853), it is stated to be one of the most popular of Christmas carols, and is found with greater variations than almost any other. There is scarcely an European language which has not had an ancient translation. In Germany it appears in the vernacular as Czu diesem newen jare tzart, as In des jares zirclikait, or as Mit diesem nuwen jare.

For an English translation, see Neale's 'Medieval Hymns' (1851), p. 74; and for words in free imitation of the Latin, see 'Carols for Christmastide' (1853), No. viii. In both cases Neale's carols begin alike In the ending of the year.


    1. Neale, Carols for Christmas-tide, In The Ending Of The Year.

    2. Neale, Medieval Carols, In The Ending Of The Year.

    3. Woodward, Cowley Carol Book, In The Ending Of The Year.

The Melody is in the Dorian mode. For an earlier form of the PIĈ CANTIONES tune, taken from the Huffite 'Kantional von Jistebnicz,' circa 1420, and there arranged for two voices, see 'Analecta Hymnica,' XXIII, Anhang, p. 198. This Jistebnicz form of the air, in four-part harmony, is to be found as No. 13. In The Ending Of The Year, in 'The Cowley Carol Book.'

Note: I have been unable to locate the Anhang ("Appendix") to Vol. XXIII, Analectia Hymnica. Vol. XXIII itself is text only.

When 'Carols for Christmas and Easter-tide' first appeared in 1853-4, the rule as to the interpretation of the 'ligature' was not so clearly under-stood as now. Consequently, not only in the case of In hoc anni circulo, but in many other instances also, the tunes of PIĈ CANTIONES have been, unintentionally, but nevertheless incorrectly transcribed in Neale and Helmore's otherwise admirable work.

Editor's Note:

Resources mentioned by Rev. Julian and Rev. Woodward in their Notes include:

This hymn is sometimes found under the title In hoc anni circulo. Compare: See the Word Our Flesh Become (“Verbum caro factum est”)

Sources of Latin hymns found in Piae Cantiones:

Copies of many of these works are available at the Internet Archive and Google Books.

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