The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Come All You Worthy Gentlemen

For Christmas

Also known as The Somerset Carol

Title: "A Christmas Carol"

Words and Music: English Traditional from Mr. Rapsey, of Bridgwater, Somerset

Source: Cecil J. Sharp, ed., Folk Songs From Somerset. Series V. Second Edition. (London: Simpkin & Co., Ltd., 1909), #CXXVI, A Christmas Carol, pp. 68-69. Notes on the Songs, p. 91.

MIDI / Noteworthy Composer
Sheet music available at RoDeby Music Company

1. Come all you worthy gentlemen
That may be standing by.
Christ our blessed Saviour
Was born on Christmas day.
The blessed virgin Mary
Unto the Lord did say,
O we wish you the comfort and tidings of joy!

2. Christ our blessed Saviour
Now in the manger lay;
He's lying in the manger,
While the oxen fed on hay.
The blessed Virgin Mary
Unto the Lord did pray.
O we wish you the comfort and tidings of joy!

3. God bless the ruler of this house,
And long on may he reign;
Many happy Christmases
He live to see again!
God bless our generation
Who live both far and near;
O we wish you the comfort and tidings of joy!

Sheet Music From Cecil J. Sharp, ed., Folk Songs From Somerset. Series V. Second Edition. (London: Simpkin & Co., Ltd., 1909), #CXXVI, A Christmas Carol, pp. 68-69.

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Sheet Music From Sharp, English-Folk Carols (1911)
MIDI / NWC / PDF

Sheet Music From Cecil J. Sharp, Folk-Song Carols (London: Novello and Company, Ltd., 1913), No. 1179, pp. 12-13. Novello's School Songs, Book #245, edited by W. G. McNaught.

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Sheet Music from Martin Shaw and Percy Dearmer, The English Carol Book, Second Series (London: A. R. Mowbray & Co., Ltd., 1913), Carol #49
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Notes from Mr. Sharp, Folk Songs From Somerset, p. 91.

No. 126. A CHRISTMAS CAROL.

Words and air from Mr. Rapsey, of Bridgwater.

No variants. Mr. Rapsey told me that he learned this carol from his mother, and that when he was a lad. he used to go round Bridgwater in company with other boys at Christmas time singing it.

It is, apparently, a shortened version of the well known carol "God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen" given in Sandys (p. 102) and elsewhere. Mr. Rapsey's words were not very clear and I was compelled to amend them in one or two places, but they appear in the text substantially as he sang them. The word " say " in the penultimate lines of the first two verses I was at first inclined to regard as a corruption for " pray," which is the usual reading. But the Rev. Allen Brockington thought that " say " was merely used intransitively, as is not unusual in Somerset, for " talk," i.e. "prattle." As this is at least a possible explanation I have retained the word that Mr. Say sang.

Notes from Cecil J. Sharp, English Folk-Carols (London: Novello & Co., Ltd., 1911), pp. 26-7.

Sung by Mr. Rapsey, of Bridgwater.

This carol has been already printed in Folk-Songs from Somerset (No. 126). The only alteration that has been made in Mr. Rapsey’s words is the substitution of the word “pray“ for “say“ in the penultimate lines of the first two stanzas. Mr. Rapsey told me that the carol was taught to him by his mother and that, in company with other children, he used to sing it in the streets of Bridgwater at Christmas time. I do not know of another printed version of the carol.

Compare: God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen

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