The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Ah Man, Ah Say

Alternate Title: Man Have in Mind How Here Before

For Christmas

Words and melody from the Selden M.S. (Selden MS. B.26 f.7v), Bodleian Library, Oxford. Mode VIII.

Source: Sir Richard Runciman Terry, A Medieval Carol Book: The Melodies Chiefly from MMS. in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, and in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd., 1932), Carol #19, p. 38.

Refrain:

Ah man, ah say, ah say, ah say
And ask for mercy while thou may.

Verses

1. Man have in mind how here before
For thy misdeed thou wert1 forlore2.
But mercy to give now Christ is bore3,
Ah say, ah say, ah say, ah say.

2. In sin thy life if thou hast led,
Amend it now, be not adread4,
For He His mercy forth hath spread,
Ah say.

3. And though thy sin be ne'er so ill,
For thy sin shalt thou never spill5;
Now mercy ask thou if thou will,
Ah say.

4. (Thy) God who died upon the rood6,
For thy misdeed He shed His blood,
For His mercy is full and good,
Ah Say

5. He who thee so dear hath bought,
Mercy He woulde that thou sought;
If thou seek, He denieth it nought,
Ah Say.

6. Mercy is spread (up-)on the ground,
And there (is) left (all) for a stound;7
Therefore go seek till it be found,
Ah Say.

Notes from Rev. Terry:

1. The MS gives 'where.'  Return.

2. Forlore = lost.  Return.

3. Bore = born.  Return.

4. Adread = afraid.  Return.

5. Spill = Come to grief.  Return.

6 The rood = the cross.  Return.

7. Stound = time, period.  Return.

Sheet Music from Sir Richard Runciman Terry, A Medieval Carol Book: The Melodies Chiefly from MMS. in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, and in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge. (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd., 1932), Carol #32, pp. 57-59.

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Editor's Note:

A listing of volumes where this carol may be found can be seen at the The Digital Index of Middle English Verse (DIMEV), Record 3550. See: Man Have In Mind How Here Before.

This carol has been found in at least three sources. Padelford gives the texts from (1) Oxford, Bodleian Library Arch. Selden. B. 26 (SC 3340), f. 7v; (2) Oxford, Balliol College 354, f. 220v; (3) Oxford, Lincoln College Lat. 89, f. 27v. See: Frederick Morgan Padelford, “English songs in manuscript Selden B.26.” Anglia 36 (1912), pp. 87-9.

The Selden Manuscript was one of the sources for A Medieval Carol Book.

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