The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Christmas Carols Printed in the Sixteenth Century

Including Kele's Christmas Carolles Newly Inprynted.

Edward Bliss Reed

Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1932, pages 103-104.

See: Kele's Christmas Carolles

Index of First Lines

This delightful volume contains photographs of several collections of 16th Century Christmas carols. All that has comes to us is 29 leaves of songs, all of which are found in this volume. The oldest is a single leaf from Wynkyn de Worde's Christmasse carolles newely enprinted (1521), containing a hunting song (not reproduced) and a Christmas song, Caput apri differo, that is, The bores heed in hande bring I (page A).

Also included is the four leaves of Bassus, also printed by Wynkyn de Worde (1530). The first page contains a table of contents of the volume, which contained 20 songs in both three and four parts (page B). This volume contains only the bass part — in many cases, we do not know the melody or the other one or two parts to these arrangements. One of the songs of this volume is printed on pp. C through F, "A mayd pereles" [She May Be Called A Sovereign Lady]. This is the earliest Christmas carol printed with music (so far). According to Reed, the entire volume is reprinted in Anglia, XII, 589 ff; a copy of Anglia XII is available at the Internet Archive.

On page G is a title page to "Christmas carolles newely Imprinted" (Douce fragments f. 48, Bodleian Library), unfortunately lacking either the printer's name or the year of publication. Following the title page is seven pages of Christmas Carols, including

H. A woman a mayd in thought & deede [Come to Bethleem and ye shall se]

I. Dethe began bycause of syn [Dethe began bycau]

J., K., L. Blow ye winde styl & blow nat so shyl [Synfull man thou art vnkynde]

L., M. Farewell aduent & haue good daye [Get the hence what doest thou here]

M. Whan alleluya is a lofte [Whan alleluya is a lofte]

M., N. In the honour of Christes byrth [In this tyme of Chrystmas]

Perhaps most important is Kele's Christmas carolles newely Inprynted, a 24-leaf (48-page) collection containing some of the earliest printed carols (pages 1-48 in Reed's volume). In actuality, this "volume" may be an amalgam of sheets from up to five different collections, the first of which was printed by Kele. For the sake of convenience, this collection is referred to as Kele's Christmas Carolles (this page has a fuller discussion of Kele's contents; opens in a new window).

This is the first publication of the entire collection, although Philip Bliss reprinted seven of them in Bibliographical Miscellanies (Oxford: 1813). The first phrase is the first line of the burden; the second phrase [in the square brackets] is the first line of the first verse. The seven carols are:

  1. Now synge we as we were want [The kiges baner on felde is playd; In Blackletter: The kiges baner on felde is playd], p. 46.

  2. O my hart is wo! [Whan that my swete sone; in Blackletter: Whan that my swete sone] p. 51.

  3. My harte of golde as true as stele (Modern spelling, etc.: My Heart Of Gold), [My lady went to Caunterbury; in Blackletter: My lady went to Caunterbury], p. 53.

  4. To increase our ioy and blysse [Make we mery in hall and boure; in Blackletter:  Make we mery in hall and boure], p. 54.

  5. Be we mery in this feste [In Betheleem, That Noble Place; in Blackletter: In Betheleem that noble place], p. 56.

  6. Nowell, nowell, nowell, nowell [Lordes and ladyes all by dene;  in Blackletter: Lordes and ladyes all by dene], p. 57.

  7. Marke this songe for it is trewe; in Blackletter: Marke this songe for it is trewe, [There was one Octauyan], p. 58.

I have re-typed the carols from this volume. All are in Middle English Blackletter, which I find somewhat difficult to read (above is the first page of "The Kiges Baner On Felde Is Playd"). See: Christmas Carols Printed In The 16th Century. Note that this page of carols requires the installation of the "Old Blackletter" font for best display. These carols are also available in a Middle English font, Junicode, which is required for best display.

Many of these carols have been reprinted in other collections — including Sandys, Wright, Husk, Bullen, Chambers & Sidgwick, and Rickert — often with modernized language, spelling and punctuation. Most, but not all, relate to the Christmas-tide. See: Full Index Of The Hymns and Carols.

This index listing is from Reed, pp. 103-104. The first lines of the refrains are in italics; the first lines of the poems are in normal type. The references are to the facsimile reprints, letters being used for the Christmas Carols and the numbers at the top of the pages for Kele's Christmas carolles.

Title

Page

A mayd pereles [In a contemporary font: She May Be Called A Sovereign Lady from Rickert; She May Be Called A Sovereign Lady from Chambers and Sidgwick]

C-F

A voyce from heuen to erth shall com [In Blackletter: All mydle erthe it shall fulfyll; in a Middle English font: All mydle erthe it shall fulfyll]  [see graphic right]

45

A woman a mayd in thought & deede [In Blackletter: Come to Bethleem and ye shall se; in a Middle English font: A woman a mayd in thought and deede]

H

Alone, alone, alone, alone [In Blackletter: As I went this enders day; in a Middle English font: As I went this enders day]

17

Amice christi Johannes [In Blackletter: My hert is set to syng; in a Middle English font: My hert is set to syng]

11

As I went this enders day [In Blackletter: As I went this enders day; in a Middle English font: As I went this enders day]

17

Be thou poore or be thou ryche [In Blackletter: Dethe began bycau; in a Middle English font: Dethe began bycause of syn]

7

Be we mery in this feste [In Blackletter: In Betheleem that noble place; in a Middle English font: In Betheleem, That Noble Place]

25

Blessyd Sephan we the praye [In Blackletter: I Shall you tell this ylke nyght; in a Middle English font: I shall you tell this ylke nyght]

42

Blow ye winde styl & blow nat so shyl [In Blackletter: Synfull man thou art vnkynde; in a Middle English font: Synfull man thou art vnkynde]

J

Caput apri differo [In Blackletter: The bores heed in hande bring I; in a Middle English font: Caput apri refero]

A

Come to Bethleem and ye shal see [In Blackletter: Come to Bethleem and ye shall se; In a Middle English font: A woman a mayd in thought and deede]

H

Dethe began bycause of syn [In Blackletter: Dethe began bycau; in a Middle English font: Dethe began bycause of syn]

I

Farewell aduent & haue good daye [In Blackletter: Get the hence what doest thou here; in a Middle English font: Get the hence what doest thou here]

L

Gaudeamus synge we in hoc sacro tempore [In Blackletter: Mary moder come and se; in a Middle English font: Mary moder come and se]; Also see Mary moder, cum and se - Thomas Wright.

31

Gebit, Gebit, gebit, gebit [In Blackletter: Ipse mocat me; in a Middle English font: Ipse mocat me]

22

Get the hence what doest thou here [In Blackletter: Get The Hence What Doest Thou Here; in a Middle English font: Get the hence what doest thou here]

L

I shall you tell this ylke nyght [In Blackletter: I shall you tell this ylke nyght; in a Middle English font: I shall you tell this ylke nyght]

42

If thou be Johan I tell it the [In Blackletter: If thou be Johan; in a Middle English font: If thou be Johan]

5

In Betheleem that noble place [In Blackletter: In Betheleem, That Noble Place; in a Middle English font: In Betheleem, That Noble Place]

25

In olde tyme straung thnges cam to pas [In Blackletter: Marke this songe for it is trewe; in a Middle English font: Marke this songe for it is trewe; also see, from Sandys, Marke This Songe For It Is Trewe]

36

In the honour of Christes byrth [In Blackletter: In this tyme of Chrystmas; in a Middle English font: In this tyme of Chrystmas]

M

In this tyme of Chrystmas [In Blackletter: In this tyme of Chrystmas; in a Middle English font: In this tyme of Chrystmas]

M

Inducas inducas [In Blackletter: The nunne walked on her prayer; in a Middle English font: The nunne walked on her prayer]

19

Ipse mocat me [In Blackletter: Ipse mocat me; in a Middle English font: Ipse mocat me]

22

It was a mayde of brente nars [In Blackletter: It was a mayde of brente nars; in a Middle English font: It was a mayde of brente nars]

18

Jesu Christe fili dei viui miserere nobis [In Blackletter: Moost souerayn lorde Chryst; in a Middle English font: Moost souerayn lorde Chryst]

47

Lordes & ladyes all by dene [In Blackletter: Lordes and ladyes all by dene; in a Middle English font: Lordes and ladyes all by dene]

26

Make we mery in hall and bourne [In Blackletter: Make we mery in hall and boure; in a Middle English font: Make we mery in hall and boure]

23

Mark this songe for it is trewe [In Blackletter: Marke this songe for it is trewe; in a Middle English font: Mark This Song, For It Is True]

36

Mary moder come and se  [In Blackletter: Mary moder come and se; in a Middle English font: Mary moder come and se]; Also see Mary moder, cum and se - Thomas Wright.

31

Moost souerayn lorde Chryste [In Blackletter: Moost souerayn lorde Chryst; in a Middle English font: Moost souerayn lorde Chryst]

47

My harte of golde as true as stele [In Blackletter: My lady went to Caunterbury; in a Middle English font: My lady went to Caunterbury]; also see My Heart Of Gold

20

My lady went to Caunterbury [In Blackletter: My lady went to Caunterbury; in a Middle English font: My lady went to Caunterbury]; also see My Heart Of Gold

20

Now synge we as we were wont [In Blackletter: The kiges baner on felde is playd; in a Middle English font: The kiges baner on felde is playd]

2

Nowell Nowell Nowell Nowell [In Blackletter: Lordes and ladyes all by dene; in a Middle English font: Lordes and ladyes all by dene]

26

O blessed & maruelous natyute [In Blackletter: Welcome be this blessed feste; in a Middle English font: Welcome be this blessed feste]

28

O blessyd Johan the euangelyst [In Blackletter: O Blessyd Johan the euangelyst; in a Middle English font: O Blessyd Johan the euangelyst]

35

O my hert is wo [In Blackletter: Whan that my swete sone; in a Middle English font: Whan that my swete sone]

14

O very lyfe of swetness and hope [In Blackletter: O Uery lyfe of swetnes and hope; in a Middle English font: O Uery lyfe of swetnes and hope]

44

Of saynt Steuen goddes knyght [In Blackletter: Of sayne Steuen goddes knyght; in a Middle English font: Of sayne Steuen goddes knyght]

33

Pray for us to god on hye [In Blackletter: O Blessyd Johan the euangelyst; in a Middle English font: O Blessyd Johan the euangelyst]

35

Psallemus cantantes [In Blackletter: My hert is set to syng; in a Middle English font: My hert is set to syng]

10

Salue regina mater miseridordie [In Blackletter: O Uery lyfe of swetnes and hope; in a Middle English font: O Uery lyfe of swetnes and hope]

44

She may be callyd a souerant lady [In Blackletter: She May Be Called A Sovereign Lady; in a Middle English font: She May Be Called A Sovereign Lady from Rickert; She May Be Called A Sovereign Lady from Chambers and Sidgwick]

C

Synfull man thou art vnkynde [In Blackletter: Synfull man thou art vnkynde; in a Middle English font: Synfull man thou art vnkynde]

J

Synge Dyllum dyllum dyllum dyllum [In Blackletter: It was a mayde of brente nars; in a Middle English font: It was a mayde of brente nars]

18

The bores heed in hande bring I [In Blackletter: The boar’s head in hand bring I; in a Middle English font: Caput apri refero]

A

The kinges baner on felde is playd [In Blackletter: The kiges baner on felde is playd; in a Middle English font: The kiges baner on felde is playd]]

2

The name of Jo. [Johan] wel prays man [In Blackletter: If thou be Johan; in a Middle English font: If thou be Johan]

5

The nunne walked on her prayer [In Blackletter: The nunne walked on her prayer; in a Middle English font: The nunne walked on her prayer]

19

This voyce both sharp & also [shrill?] [In Blackletter: All mydle erthe it shall fulfyll; in a Middle English font: All mydle erthe it shall fulfyll]

45

This was the tenour of her talkynge [In Blackletter: This was the tenour of her talkynge; in a Middle English font: This was the tenour of her talkynge]

41

Timor mortis conturbat me [In Blackletter: This was the tenour of her talkynge; in a Middle English font: This was the tenour of her talkynge]

41

To encrease our ioy and blysse [In Blackletter: Make we mery in hall and boure; in a Middle English font: Make we mery in hall and boure]

23

To euery man that is vnkynde [In Blackletter: To euery man that is vnkynde; in a Middle English font: To euery man that is vnkynde]

1

To saynt Steuen wyll we pray [In Blackletter: Of sayne Steuen goddes knyght; in a Middle English font: Of sayne Steuen goddes knyght]

33

Welcome be this blessed feste [In Blackletter: Welcome be this blessed feste; in a Middle English font: Welcome be this blessed feste]

28

Whan alleluya is a lofte [In Blackletter: Whan alleluya is a lofte; in a Middle English font: What alleluya is a lofte]

M

Whan that my swete sone [In Blackletter: Whan that my swete sone; in a Middle English font: Whan that my swete sone]

14

Whan the aungell Aue began [In Blackletter: Whan the aungell Aue began; in a Middle English font: Whan the aungell Aue began]

43

 

 

English musician, composer and scholar, Tamsin Lewis, has created two delicious collections of English music and song from the 16th and 17th Centuries for Christmas and Winter. From Advent through Candlemas, these books contain a selection of carols, hymns and ballads that celebrate both the birth of Christ, as well as the festivities of the Christmas-tide.
Rondo Publishing.

 

 

To Shorten Winter’s Sadness

Introduction

Contents

For the accompanying CD please see Winter's Sadness

 

 

Old Christmas Returned

Introduction

Contents

 

 

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