The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Come, All You Worthy Christian Men

For Christmas

Words & Music: English Traditional from Mrs. Eliza Woodberry, of Ash Priors, Somerset

Source: Cecil J. Sharp, ed., Folk Songs From Somerset. Series IV. Second Edition. (London: Simpkin & Co., Ltd., 1911), Carol #88, "Come All You Worthy Christian Men," pp. 26-28.

1 Come all you worthy Christian men
That dwell upon this land,
Don't spend your time in rioting :
Remember you're but man.
Be watchful for your latter end ;
Be ready when you're called.
There are many changes in this world ;
Some rise while others fall.

2 Now, Job he was a patient man,
The richest in the East :
When he was brought to poverty,
His sorrows soon increased.
He bore them all most patiently ;
From sin he did refrain ;
He always trusted in the Lord ;
He soon got rich again.

3 Come all you worthy Christian men
That are so very poor,
Remember how poor Lazarus
Lay at the rich man's door,
While begging of the crumbs of bread
That from his table fell.
The Scriptures do inform us all
That in heaven he doth dwell.

4 The time, alas, it soon will come
When parted we shall be ;
But all the difference it will make
Is in joy and misery.
And we must give a strict account
Of great as well as small :
Believe me, now, dear Christian friends,
That God will judge us all.

Notes from Cecil Sharp, p. 80.


Words and air from Mrs. Eliza Woodberry, of Ash Priors.

I have heard this song many times in the West of England, and have noted down four variants of it. Neither tune nor words vary very much, although the air is often sung in other modes than the aeolian, e.g., major, mixolydian and dorian (see English Folk-Song, p. 27). Three versions of the tune are printed in English County Songs (pp. 34, 68 and 102) ; and there is a dorian version in Songs of the West, No. 111. All of these are set to different words. For several versions of both words and tune see The Folk-Song Journal, II, pp. 115-122.

This beautiful tune is one of the commonest, and one of the most characteristic of English folk-airs. Chappell noted down a version of it, which he heard in the streets of Kilburn early in the last century (see Popular Music of the Olden Time, II, p. 748). The well-known air to "The Miller of the Dee" is a minor and modernised version of the same tune.

The words given in the text are almost word for word as Mrs. Woodberry sang them to me, " Moralizing " songs are not met with very frequently nowadays, although this and one or two others, e.g., " The fall of the leaf," are still popular with folk-singers.

Cecil J. Sharp, ed., Folk Songs From Somerset. Series IV. Second Edition. (London: Simpkin & Co., Ltd., 1911), Carol #88, "Come All Your Worthy Christian Men," pp. 26-28.

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Cecil J. Sharp, ed., Folk Songs from Somerset. Set II. (London: Novollo and Company, 1908), # 965. "Come, All You Worthy Christian Men," pp. 14-16. From Somerset. Book 202 of the series "Novello's School Songs," edited by W. G. McNaught.

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