The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

A Virgin Most Pure

For Christmas

Words and Music: English Traditional
Roud Number: 1378

Source: Broadside Harding B 7(4) (Bod19084 at the Bodleian Library)

Printed by J. Catnach, 2 Monmouth Court, 7 Dials, Between 1813 and 1838.

See: In Bethlehem City - Notes

1. A Virgin most pure as the prophets did tell.
Should bring forth a Son and as it befel,
To be our Redeemer from Death and from sin,
Which Adam's transgression involved us in.

Chorus:
Therefore be merry, aye, therefore be merry,
Rejoice and be merry, set sorrow aside,
For Christ our Saviour was born on this tide.

2. In Bethlehem of Judea it came to pass,
That Mary to Joseph espoused was,
And they went to Jerusalem as it is said,
Where Caesar had order'd a tax to be paid.

3. They were constrained in a stable to lie,
Where oxen and asses they used to tie;
In this humble apartment they lay till the morn,
When the blessed Redeemer of all men was born.

4. The King of glory to this world being brought,
To clothe him forthwith fine linen was sought,
When Mary had clothed our Saviour so sweet,
Within an ox's manger she laid him to sleep.

5. These tidings so joyful were straightway reveal'd,
To certain poor shepherds who watch'd in a field,
By an angel who bade them rejoice and be bold,
For a Saviour was born as the prophets foretold.

6. Then the hearts of the shepherds were instantly cheer'd,
By a number of angels who to them appear'd
In glory, while seated they sweetly did sing,
Songs of praise to Jehovah our heavenly King.

Broadside from the Bodleian Library

Harding B 7(4) - Christmas Drawing Near At Hand, J. Catnach, printer: 4 Carols
Carol I. A Virgin most pure as the prophets did tell
Carol II. Christmas now is drawing near at hand
Carol III. Dives and Lazarus (As it fell out upon a day)
Carol IV. While Shepherds watch'd their flocks by night.

Harding B 7(4)-00724.jpg (493536 bytes)

Note:

The source for this text is Broadside Harding B 7(4) (Bod19084 at the Bodleian Library). It was printed by J. Catnach, 2 Monmouth Court, 7 Dials, between 1813 and 1838. The headline on his broadside is "Christmas Drawing Near At Hand" (this link is to the image at the Bodleian Library).

Another Broadside with this version of the carol can also be found at the Bodleian Library, Oxford. It is Broadside Harding B 45(3) (Bod18895 at the Bodleian Library, Oxford). Printed And Sold By J. Catnach, 2, & 3, Monmouth-Court, 7 Dials, London, between 1813 and 1838. The headline on his broadside is "Divine Mirth" (this link is to the image at the Bodleian Library). "A Virgin Most Pure" is Carol #5 of 6 carols on this broadside. Catnach was a major publisher of Christmas broadsides.

Harding B 45(3) - Divine Mirth, J. Catnach: 6 carols
Carol I. A Carol (Hosanna! to the royal son) ?
Carol II. God rest you merry Gentlemen
Carol III. While Shepherds watch'd their Flocks by Night
Carol IV. Shepherds rejoice, lift up your eyes
Carol V. A Virgin most pure as the prophets did tell
Carol VI. The Nativity (Hail, hail, the blest ecstatic morn) ?
Harding B 45(3)-11625.jpg (1923691 bytes)

The broadsides containing this carol on this website, with slightly different lyrics, include:

And see: A Virgin Most Pure - Sandys, 1833 and In Bethlehem City - R.V. Williams.

PS. Did you see the errors in Verse 2? Joseph and Mary were espoused in Nazareth, not Bethlehem. They went to Bethlehem to be taxed, not Jerusalem! See Matthew 1:18-23, Matthew 2:1-23, and Luke 2:1-40. There is also this summary: Biblical Accounts of The Birth of Christ.

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