The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

All The Merrier Is That Place,
The Sun of grace Him Shineth In

Words and Music: English Traditional, Fifteenth Century

Source: Edith Rickert, Ancient English Christmas Carols: 1400-1700 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1914), p. 209.

The sun of grace Him shineth1 in,
    On a day when it was morrow,
When our Lord God born was,
    Without sin or sorrow.

The sun of grace Him shineth in,
    On a day when it was prime,
When our Lord God born was;
    So well He knew His time.

The sun of grace Him shineth in,
    On a day when it was noon,
When our Lord God born was,
    And on the Rood (y)done.

The sun of grace Him shineth in,
    On a day when it was undern
When our Lord God born was,
    And to the heart (y)stungen.2

Notes from Rickert:

1. Text: schynit. She also notes: "Him seems to refer to Christ, although this interpretation is not without difficulties. The verb is schynit, which should be properly shineth; but the other verbs are all in the past tense." Return

2. Pierced. Return

Rickert adds this note:

"The symbolism of the 'sun of grace' is carried through the chief divisions of the day prime, noon and undern."

Ed. Note: The reference to "chief divisions of the day" may refer to the custom of reciting prayers at certain hours of the day or night. Prime is an early morning prayer (during the first hour of daylight) ; noon (properly none) are prayers made at the ninth hour (e.g., 3 p.m.), and undern is a morning prayer (at the third hour, e.g., 9 a.m.; also known as terce). The prayer made at the sixth hour (noon) was referred to as sext. The prayer made as evening approaches is vespers. The nightfall prayer was compline. For more information, see: Liturgy of the Hours.

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