The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

A Babe Is Born To Blis Vs Brynge

For Christmas

Words: English Traditional from the Hill Ms., Balliol College MS. 354
See: A Babe Is Born Who Bliss Shall Bring (Weston)
A Babe Is Born, To Bliss Us Bring (Rickert)

Music: Not Stated

Source: Ewald Flügel, ed., “Liedersammlungen des XVI Jahrhunderts, Besonders Aus Der Zeit Heinrichs VIII. III. 6. Die lieder des Balliol Ms. 354,” in Eugen Einenkel, ed., Anglia - Zeitschrift für englische Philologie enthaltend Beitrage zur Geschlicht der englischen Sprache und Literatur. Band XXVI. (Halle: Max Niemeyer, 1903), #LXXXV, pp. 247-248.

[209b; 225b]

Now synge we with angelis
gloria in excel[s]is

1] A babe is born, to blis vs brynge,1
I hard a mayd lulley & synge;
she said, dere son, leve thy wepyng,
Thy fader is ye kyng of blis.
            now syng we &c.

2] Lulley, she said & songe also
myn own dere son, whi art you wo?
haue I not do as I shuld do?
Thy grevaunce tell me what it is?
            now syng we &c.

3] Nay, dere moder, for ye wepe I nowght,
but for ye wo yat shall be wrowght.
to me or I mankynd haue bowght,
was neuer sorow lik it ywis.
            now syng we &c.

4] pesse, dere son tell me not soo!
you art my child I haue no moo!
shuld I se men myn own son sloo?
alas my dere son. what menys yis?
            now syng we &c.

5] My hondes moder, yat ye may see,
Shall be nayled vnto a tree;
My fete all so fast shall be,
men shall wepe yat shall se this!
            now syng we &c.

6] A, dere son hard is my happe,
to see my child yat sokid my pappe,
his hondes, his fete yat I dide wrappe
be so naylid yat neuer dide amysse!
            now syng we &c.

7] A, dere moder, yet shall a spere,
My hart in sonder all to tere,
no wondre yf I carefull were,
& wepe full sore to thynk on this!
            now syng we &c.

8] A, dere son, shall I se this?
you art my child & I thy moder ywis!
Whan gabryell called me füll of grace, 2)
he told me no thyng of this!
            now syng we &c.

9] A, dere moder thorow myn here
to thrust in thornes they will not spare!
alas moder I am full of care,
that ye shall see this hevynes!
            now syng we &c.

10] A, dere son, leve thy wepyng!
you bryngyst my hart in gret mornyng,
a carefull songe now may I syng,
This tydynges hard to me it is!
            now syng we &c.

11] A, pece, dere moder I the pray
& comforte me all yat ye may,
& syng by by lulley lulley!
To put a way all hevynes!
            now syng we &c.

Flugel Footnotes:

1. 1 Holth. a. a. o. us blis to brynge.  Return

2. 8, 3 Holth. möchte 'grace' in 'bliss' ändern.  Return

Editor's Footnote:

There are typographical errors in this text. The "y" character was used instead of the "ž" (thorne) character, possibly because of a limitation in the type faces available to the printer. The thorne character is usually transliterated as "th". Thus, in the second line of the 11th verse, we see:

all yat ye may

It should be:

all žat že may.

Modern transliteration would give us:

all that thee may.

This is one of several carols found in multiple manuscripts, with various versions, including:

1. Oxford, Balliol College Ms. 354. Versions include:

2. Bodleian Library, Oxford, Laud misc. 683 (SC 798), f. 105v, with a first Line of "A babe is born our blysse to brynge." A copy was posted by Henry Noble MacCracken in Modern Language Notes, Vol. XXIV, No. 7. (Baltimore: November, 1909), p. 225:

3. National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, Porkington 10, ff. 201-202. According to Richard Greene (and also see DIMEV,, this version includes Stanzas 1, 3-8, and 11, alternating with stanzas of the Latin Hymn, "Christe qui lux es et dies," described as a hymn for Compline often sung during Lent 'A Clerk At Oxford' gives a background plus an English translation, Greene gives a number of the differences from "A Babe is born to blis vs brynge." Richard Greene, The Early English Carols (Oxford, 1935), pp. 112-113.

4. Harvard University, Cambridge Mass., H.C.L. 25258.27.5, p. 8, with a first line: "There is a child born to our blessing shall bring." According to DIMEV (, it is the basis of the version found in William Sandys, ed. Christmas Carols, Ancient and Modern. (London: Richard Beckley, 1833), pp. 122-3. The text differs in the first line, but other texts given at DIMEV are found in Sandys' text:

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