The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Carol for the Poor

Be Merry All, Be Merry All

For Christmas

Source: Joshua Sylvester, A Garland of Christmas Carols, Ancient and Modern (London: John Camden Hotten, 1861)

Be merry all, be merry all,
With holly dress the festive hall,
Prepare the song, the feast, the ball,
To welcome merry Christmas.

And oh ! remember, gentles gay,
To you who bask in fortune's ray,
The year is all a holiday,
The poor have only Christmas.

When you with velvets mantled o'er
Defy December's tempest's roar,
Oh, spare one garment from your store,
To clothe the poor at Christmas.

When you the costly banquet deal
To guests, who never famine feel,
Oh, spare one morsel from your meal,
To feed the poor at Christmas.

When gen'rous wine your care controls,
And gives new joy to happiest souls,
Oh, spare one goblet from your bowls,
To cheer the poor at Christmas.

So shall each note of mirth appear
More sweet to heaven than praise or prayer,
And Angels, in their Carols there,
Shall bless the poor at Christmas.

Sylvester's Notes:

Although a provincial broadsheet supplies the following, yet the Carol contains evidences of superior authorship. It was, probably, from the pen of one of the village poets of the last century, whose works, issued from a local press, and containing a list of the gentry and others well disposed to the author in the neighbourhood, are often to be noticed in collections of old books.

Note that Hugh Keyte, an editor of The New Oxford Book of Carols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992) believes that "Joshua Sylvester" is a pseudonym for a collaboration between William Sandys (1792-1874) and William Henry Husk (1814-1887). See Appendix 4.

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