The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Songs and Carols from a Manuscript in the British Museum of the Fifteenth Century

Edited by Thomas Wright for the Warton Club

London: T. Richards, 1856

From the Sloane Manuscript
Number 2593
In the British Museum

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Note from the Preface by Wright.

The Sloane MS., from which the present collection is printed, has been generally ascribed, from the character of the writing, to the reign of Henry VI [1422 to 1461]. I have thought, therefore, that it would not be unacceptable to the readers of our old poetry, if I gave a complete edition of the Sloane Manuscript, as a companion to the volume printed for the Percy Society.

Songs and Carols Now First Printed From a Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century
Published by Richards for the Percy Society, 1847
Now in the Bodleian Library and known as "MS. Eng. poet. e. 1."

Both manuscripts are believed to have been owned by 15th Century Minstrels.

Editor's Note:

Twenty songs from this manuscript were printed earlier by Mr. Wright in Songs and Carols Printed From A Manuscript in the Sloane Collection in the British Museum (London: William Pickering, 1836).

Mr. Wright was the editor of many volumes, including

Concerning the Sloane MS 2593.

The following account is from William Chappell, The Ballad Literature and Popular Music of the Olden Time (London: Chappell & Co., 1859), pp. 41-43:

A curious collection of the songs and Christmas carols of this reign (Henry VI.) have been printed recently by the Percy Society. (Songs and Carols from a Manuscript in the British Museum of the Fifteenth Century (The Warton Club, 1856) from the Sloane MS #2593.)

The editor of the MS. (Mr. T. Wright) observes that “The great variations in the different copies of the same song, show that they were taken down from oral recitation, and had often been preserved by memory among minstrels, who were not unskilful at composing, and who were not only in the habit of, voluntarily or involuntarily, modifying the songs as they passed through their hands, and adding or omitting stanzas, but of making up new songs by stringing together phrases and lines, and even whole stanzas from the different compositions which were imprinted on their memories.” But what renders the manuscript peculiarly interesting, is, that it contains the melodies of some of the songs as well as the words. From this it appears that the same tune was used for different words. At page 62 is a note, which in modern spelling is as follows: “This is the tune for the song following; if so be that ye will have another tune, it may he at your pleasure, for I have set all the song.” The words of the carol, “Nowell, Nowell,” (Noel) are written under the notes, but the wassail song that follows, and for which the tune was also intended, is of a very opposite character, “Bryng us in good ale.” I have printed the first verse of each under the tune, but it requires to be sung more quickly for the wassail song than for the carol.

 

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Table of Contents

Note: The full Table of Contents is reproduced, although only songs related to the Christmas-tide are reproduced on this site.

Editor's Note: Because Middle English contains letters not found in modern English, I've used a special font, "Junicode" created by Professor Peter S. Baker, Professor of English, University of Virginia on some pages.  I will note on the individual carol's page which ones need this font. You can obtain a copy of this font from his website Old English at the University of Virginia (select "Windows TrueType," or right click here, and then select "Save File As" to save a copy of the zipped file to your computer).  This font must be downloaded and installed before these pages will display accurately.

Note: I have just begun to extract songs and carols from this collection, but limited to songs of the Christmas-tide, which I define as from the first Sunday in Advent through the Presentation in the Temple, February 2. There are other songs and carols not for the Christmas-tide in this collection, however. Please check back soon. Additional historic songs and carols from other collections edited by Thomas Wright will also be forthcoming.

As I found myself retyping, formatting and attempting to add new-to-me songs, I found that I already had that song or a similar song from another collection. For this reason, I've attempted to go through the collection, and have added one or more links for some entries. Those links will be removed when the song is added from this collection, or is identified as being an identical song from another collection.

Number

Page

Burden or Chorus (C)

First Line

1

1

Thou wost wol lytyl ho is thi foo

Man, loke thou have this gys

2

2

Now bething the, gentilman

In the vale of Abraham

3

4

Alle maydenis, for Godes grace

Seynt Nicholas Was Of Gret Posté

4

5

God that alle mytes may

This word, lordingges, I understonde

5

7

O flos de Jesse virgula

Adam Our Fader Was In Blis

6

9

Eya, Jhesus hodie

Blyssid be that mayde Mary

7

10

Gay, gay, gay, gay

Every day thou myȝ lere

8

11

Wommen be both good and trewe

Of hondes and body and face arn clene

9

12

Jhesu, Jhesu, Jhesu, Jhesu

Jhesu, as thou art our savyour

10

13

No go gyle, gyle, gyle

Gyle and gold togedere arn met

11

14

Syng we alle and sey we thus

Quan I have in myn purs i-now

12

15

Synful man, for Godis sake

Thow thou be kyng of tour and town

13

16

Of a rose, a lovely rose

Lestenyt, Lordynges, Bothe Elde and 3ynge

14

18

Man, be war, be war, be war

Thi tunge is mad of fleych and blod

15

19

God be with trewthe qwer he be

A man that xuld of trewthe telle

16

20

I drukke, I dare, so wil I may

I am a chyld, a born ful bare

17

21

Gay, gay, to be gay

Ȝyng men that bern hem so gay

18

22

Be war, sqwyer, ȝeman, and page

If thou serve a lord of prys

19

23

A, a, a, a
Nunc gaudet Maria.

Mary Is A Lady Bry3t

20

24

Man, be war, er thou be wo

Pryde is out, and pride is ine

21

26

I may synge of a may

The Ferste Joye, As I 3ou Telle

22

27

Man, be war of thin wowyng

Loke, er thin herte be set

23

28

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Salvator mundi, Domine

24

29

Nowel el el el el el el el el el el el

Mary moder, meke and mylde

25

30

 

I syng a of a mayden; see I Sing Of A Maiden That Is Makeles (Chambers and Sidgwick, 1907)

26

31

 

I have a gentil cook

27

32

 

Omnes gentes plaudite

28

32

 

Adam lay i-bowndyn

29

33

 

I have a ȝong suster

30

34

Al the meryere is that place

The sunne of grace hym schynit in

31

35

 

I have a newe gardyn

32

36

That born was of Marie (C)

Out of the blosme sprang a thorn

33

38

Of alle the spyees that I knowe

Qwete is bothe semely and sote

34

40

The sterre hym schon bothe nyȝt and day

Jhesu was born in Bedlem Judé

35

42

Robynn lyth in grene wode bowndyn

I herde a carpyng of a clerk

36

45

Eya nobis annus est (C)

Procedenti puereo
For the Nativity

37

46

So blyssid be the tyme (C)

A new yer! a new yer! a chyld was i-born

38

48

Moder, qwyt as lylie flour

As I me ros in on morwenyng

39

49

Reges de Saba venient

Now is the twelthe day i-come

40

53

 

As I went throw a gardyn grene

41

56

 

Be the way wanderyng as I went

42

60

Worchyp we bothe more and lesce

It is bred for hevene cam

43

61

Synge we, synge we,
Gloria tibi, Domine.

Man, if thou hast synnyd owth

44

63

 

Seynt Stevene was a clerk

45

65

Nowel el el el el el el el el el el el el el el el

Mary moder, cum and se

46

66

A, a, a, a

Lestenytȝ, lordynges, bothe grete and smale
For St. Thomas of Canterbury

47

68

Man, ge glad in halle and bour

In this tyme Cryst hast us sent

48

69

M and A, and R and I

It Wern Fowre Letterys Of Purposy

49

70

How hey, is is [non] les

Ȝyng men, I warne ȝou everychon

50

71

Synge we, synge we,
Regina celi, letare

Holy Maydyn, Blyssid Thou Be

51

73

Synge we nowe alle and sum

A newe song I wil begynne

52

73

Man, be wys, and arys
And thynk on lyf that lestenit ay.

Thynk, man, qwerof thou art wrout
For Repentance of Sin

53

75

Go beg, peny, go bet, go

Peny is an hardy knyȝt

54

76

We ben chapman lyȝt of fote

We bern abowtyn non cattes skynnys

55

77

 

Ave Maria Stella

56

78

Man, be glad in halle and bour

In this tyme a chyld was born

57

79

Nowel, el, el, el

A babe is born al of a may

58

80

Man, be merie as bryd on berie

This tyme is born a chyld ful go

59

81

I may seyn to most and lest,
Verbum caro factum est.

Jhesu Of His Moder Was Born
For Second Advent?

60

83

Nowel, el, el, el, el, el, el, el, el, el, el, el, el, el, el, el.

Nowel el bothe eld and ȝyng

61

84

Prenegard, prenegard

Lestenit, lordynges, I ȝou beseke

62

86

I may seyn, and so mown mo

Semenaunt is a wonder thing

63

87

Kep thi tunge, thi tunge, thi tunge

Ther is non gres that growit on ground

64

88

Alma Redemptoris mater

As I lay upon a ny3t

65

90

 

Non pudescit corpore

66

92

 

Meum est propositum in taberna mori

67

93

 

If I synge ȝe wyl me lakke

68

93

Wolcum, ȝol, thou mery man

Wolcum be thu, hevene kyng

69

94

Lullay, myn lykyng, my dere sone, myn swetyng

I saw a fayr mayden syttng and synge (Burden: Lullay, myn lykyng)

70

95

Hostis Herodis impie, Christum venire quid times ? Non erpit mortalia

Enmy Herowde, Thou Wokkyd Kyng
For the Epiphany

71

96

 

As I me lend to a lend

72

98

Mak me merthe for Crystes berthe

The ferste day of yol we han in mynde

73

99

Mak ȝe merrie, as ye may

In Patras Ther Born He Was
For the Feast of St. Nicholas

74

100

Kyrie, so kyrie, Jankyn syngyt merie, with aleyson

As I went on ȝol day

 

 

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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