The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

As I Lay Upon A Night

Alma redemptoris mater

Music has been attributed to John Dunstable (c. 1390-1453)

Alternate Title: As I Lay Upon A Night

Source: J. A. Fuller Maitland, English Carols of the Fifteenth Century. London: The Leadenhall Press, E.C., ca. 1891.

    Alma Redemptoris mater.

1. As I lay upon a night,
my thought was on a burd1 so bright
that men clepn2 Mary, full of might,
redemptoris mater.

2. To her came Gabriel with light
And said: Hail be thou, blissful wight!3
To ben cleped4 now art thou dight5
redemptoris mater.

3. At that word that lady bright
Anon6 conceived God full of might;
Then men wist7 well that she hight8
redemptoris mater.

4. When Jesu on the rood9 was pight,10
Mary was doleful of that sight
Till she see him rise upright,
redemptoris mater.

5. Jesu that sittest in heaven light,
Grant us to comen beforn thy sight
With that burde that is so bright,
redemptoris mater.

Graphic Line

1. burd = maiden Return

2. clepn = call Return

3. wight = person Return

4. cleped = called Return

5. dight = appointed Return

6. anon = straightway Return

7. wist = knew Return

8. hight = named Return

9. rood = cross or crucifix Return

10. pight = pitched Return

Also found in Edith Rickert, Ancient English Christmas Carols: 1400-1700 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1914), p. 14, who notes, at page 149, "This carol is found in several versions differing slightly. The music was perhaps written by Dunstable."

J. A. Fuller Maitland, English Carols of the Fifteenth Century. London: The Leadenhall Press, E.C., ca. 1891.

Carol in Original Form From a 15th Century Manuscript

Carol in Modern Form

Editor's Note:

Alma Redemptoris Mater means “Loving Mother of our Saviour.” It is one of four Latin Marian antiphons sung during the Daily Office; the other three are Ave Regina cælorum, the Regina cœli and the Salve Regina. For the Latin and English texts, see Alma Redemptoris Mater (at EWTN) and Alma Redemptoris Mater at the Marion Library. For general information, including texts, see Alma Redemptoris Mater at Wikipedia.

Versions of this song on this web site:

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