The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

A Babe Is Born Who Bliss Shall Bring

For Christmas

Words: "A babe is born to blys vs brynge," English Traditional from the Hill Ms.
Compare: A Babe Is Born, To Bliss Us Bring (Rickert)
A Babe Is Born To Blis Vs Brynge (Flügel)

Music: Not Stated

Source: Jessie L. Weston, ed., Old English Carols from the Hill MS. [Balliol College MS. 354] Translated by Jessie L. Weston. (London: David Nutt, 1911), Carol #XVI, pp. 28-30.

Now sing we all cum Angelis,
Gloria in Excelsis.

1. A Babe is born Who bliss shall bring,
I heard a Maid 'Lully' and sing,
She said : ' Dear Son, now cease weeping,
Thy Father is the King of bliss !'
            Now sing we all, etc.

2. 'Lulley' she said, and sang also,
' Mine own dear Son, why art Thou woe ?
Have I not done as I should do ?
Thy sorrow, tell me what it is ?'
            Now sing we all, etc.

3. 'Nay, Mother dear, ye wronged me naught,
I weep the woe that shall be wrought
To Me, ere I mankind have bought
Was never sorrow like to this !'
            Now sing we all, etc.

4. 'Nay, peace, dear Son, and say not so,
None other Child than thee I know,
Must I see men work on Thee woe ?
Alas, dear Son, what meaneth this ?'
            Now sing we all, etc.

5. ' My Hands, sweet Mother, shall ye see
With sharp nails nailed to a tree,
My Feet e'en so made fast shall be,
And men shall weep, beholding this'
            Now sing we all, etc.

6. 'Ah, Son ! Then were I sore distressed
To see my Child, Who sucked my breast,
The Hands, the Feet, that I caressed,
Nailed fast, that ne'er had done amiss '
            Now sing we all, etc.

7. 'Ah, Mother dear ! Methinks a spear,
It shall mine Heart asunder tear ;
Small wonder I be full of care
And weep full sore, to think of this'
            Now sing we all, etc.

8. 'Ah, dear Son ! This sight must I see ?
Thy Mother I, my Child, shalt be ;
When Gabriel, gracious, spake to me,
No word he told me of all this !'
            Now sing we all, etc.

9. 'Alas, dear Mother ! Thro' my Hair,
Sharp thorns to thrust they will not spare ;
Ah, Mother ! I be full of care
That thou shalt see such heaviness !
            Now sing we all, etc.

10. 'Ah, dear Son ! cease Thy sorrowing,
My heart Thou dost in sadness bring,
A mournful song I needs must sing,
For sore to me this news it is'
            Now sing we all, etc.

11. ' Ah ! peace, dear Mother, I thee pray,
Comfort Me now as best thou may,
And sing bye-bye, lully, lulley,
To put away all heaviness '

Now sing we all cum Angelis,
Gloria in Excelsis.

Editor's Note:

Weston's apparent source was 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), pp. 94-285. This work is available at both Internet Archive and Google Books.

See also Roman Dyboski, ed. Songs, Carols and Other Miscellaneous Poems from the Balliol MS. 354, Richard Hill’s Commonplace Book. Early English Text Society Extra Series No. CI (London: Published for the Early English Text Society by Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., Ltd., 1907, issued in 1908), pp. 21-23. Over 103 songs of great variety, including 62 "sacred songs and carols." Available at Internet Archive and Google Books.

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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