The Black Decree
Alternate Title: Let Christians All With One Accord Rejoice
For The Feast Of The Holy Innocents
Words and Music: Traditional
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF
#45 on Hone's List of 89 Carols Printed
Source: T. Rodda, A Selection of Carols, Pieces, and Anthems, Suitable for Christmas. (London: W. Kent and Co.; Penzance: F. Rodda, ca. 1872), p. 40.
1. Let Christians all with one accord rejoice,
And praises sing with heart as well as voice,
To God on high, for glorious things He's done,
In sending us His Best Beloved Son.
Then let us all the praises sweetly sing,
Of Mary's Son, our God, and heavenly King.
2. An earthly wonder not to be denied
Born of a Virgin Mother and a Bride!
Not like a prince in worldly pomp and state,
But poor and mean, to make us heavenly great.
Then let us all, &c.
3. Three Wise Men by a Star were thither brought,
And found the Blessed Babe they long had sought:
There, best of spices, and rich costly things,
They humbly offered to the King of kings.
Then let us all, &c.
Sheet Music is available from John Speller's Cornish Carols web site, One Accord.
Although most versions include the 23 versions printed by Bramley and Stainer, The Black Decree - Version 1 — or most of them, anyway. Others have used just three or more verses as a Christmas carol, too. The version found in Chope's Carols for Use in Church (1894), The Black Decree - Version 3, is one such version, set for the Epiphany.
John Speller's Cornish Carols web site pointed out that in the 1870 collection by Mr. Rodda, A Selection of Carols, Pieces, and Anthems, Suitable for Christmas, was also a re-cast version, this one also for Epiphany. This Cornish version used verses 1, 3, and 7, removing all references to Herod and the Innocents. As in Chope, a chorus was added; it was sung in Cornwall, but was not elsewhere heard.
Rodda provides only the lyrics, but, fortunately, John provides a PDF with a musical setting, including the chorus: One Accord. John also provides a good introduction to the Holy Innocents, as well as a discussion of The Black Decree. Recalling that our first two Victorian collectors – Davies Gilbert and William Sandys – were Cornishmen, John's Cornish Carols site is an especially good one to visit in order to get a good taste of the sounds of Christmas in the early 1820s and 1830s.
Versions on this web site:
The Black Decree - Version 1 - Bramley and Stainer, ca. 1878, with Notes. For the Feast of the Holy Infants. [This file]
The Black Decree - Version 2 - Walters, A Good Christmas Box, 1847. For the Feast of the Holy Infants.
The Black Decree - Version 3 - Chope, 1894. 6 verses, with chorus. For Epiphany.
The Black Decree - Version 4 - Rodda, 1870. 3 verses, with chorus. For Christmas.
The Black Decree - Version 5 - Broadside Harding B 16(341a), ca. 1820-1830s. For the Feast of the Holy Infants. 18 Verses.
The Black Decree - Version 6 - Broadside Douce adds. 137(31), between 1821 and 1827. For the Feast of the Holy Infants. 20 Verses.
The Black Decree - Version 7. Broadside Harding B 7(58), between 1813 and 1838, and Broadside Harding B 7(78), between 1859 and 1899. For Christmas. Five verses, no chorus.
The Black Decree - Version 8 - A Shropshire Version.
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