The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

As I Out Rode This Enders Night

Words and Music: English Traditional, 1534

Compare: About The Field They Pipd Right

Source: Edith Rickert, Ancient English Christmas Carols: 1400-1700 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1914), p. 99, which she notes is from The Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors, Coventry Corpus Christi Plays.

1. As I rode out this enders night,
Of three jolly shepherds I saw a sight,
And all about their fold a star shone bright:
    They sang terly terlow;
    So merrily the shepherds their pipes gan blow.

2. Down from heaven, from heaven so high,
Of angels there came a great company,
With mirth and joy and great solemnity,
    They sang terly terlow;
    So merrily the shepherds their pipes gan blow.

Text and Sheet Music from Thomas Sharp, A Dissertation on the Pageants or Dramatic Mysteries Anciently Performed at Coventry. (Coventry: Merridew and Son, 1825), pp. 113-114.

These are the pages from Sharp's 1825 document that contained the lyrics to the three carols:

Songs_To_The_Pageant-113.jpg (40268 bytes) Songs_To_The_Pageant-114.jpg (28554 bytes)

This is the text of carols 1 and 3 from Sharp:

Carol 1:
As I out rode this enderes night

Of thre ioli sheppardes I saw a sight
And all a bowte there fold a star shone bright
    They sange teri terlow
    So mereili the sheppards ther pipes can blow.

Carol 3:
Doune from heav
from heav so hie,
Of angeles
er came a great companie,
Wt mirthe and ioy and great solemnitye,
    Th
sange terly terlow;
    So mereli the sheppards
er pipes c blow.

As we can see, in the "Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors," verse 1 was originally Carol 1, and verse 2 was originally Carol 3. Carol 2 begins "Lully lulla w littell tin child." See: The Coventry Carol (Sharp, 1817), and Notes to The Coventry Carol.

Sharp also published Thomas Mawdycke's 1591 sheet music for all three carols:

Carol 1 Carol 2 Carol 3
" As I out rode this enderes night " " Lully, lulla, thou littell tine childe " " Doune from heaven, from heaven so hie "
As_I_Out_Rode-Music.jpg (162299 bytes) Lully-lulla-Music-01.jpg (111908 bytes)  Lully-lulla-Music-02.jpg (134401 bytes) Downe_From-Music.jpg (134572 bytes)

Note from Rickert:

"Apparently, this is only another version of the preceding." (Tyrle, tyrlow, tyrle, tyrlow - "About the field they piped right..."), p. 96.

Editor's Note:

In his discussion of "Winter's Tale," Francis Douce took notice of a lark that chanted "tirra-lirra" (Scene 2). In this connection, Mr. Douce observed:

... in one of the Coventry pageants there is the following old song sung by the shepherds at the birth of Christ, which is further remarkable for its use of the very uncommon word endenes, from the Saxon endenehes, the last.

"As I out rode this endenes night,
Of three joli shepherds I saw a syght,
And all aboute there fold a stare shone bright:
They sang terli terlow,
So mereli the sheppards there pipes can blow."

Francis Douce, Illustrations of Shakespeare, and of Ancient Manners. A New Edition. (London: Thomas Tegg, 1839), p. 217. Please note that Douce's reproduction of the Saxon word "endenehes" used characters that are not included in this font.

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