The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Ecce Ancilla Domini

For Christmas

Words: English Traditional from the Advocates' Library Ms. 19. 3. I, National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh

Music: Not Stated

Source: E. K. Chambers and F. Sidgwick, eds., Early English Lyrics (London: A. H. Bullen, 1907), #LVIII, p. 112-114.

' Ecce ancilla domini !'
    Seid tho virgin withouten vice ;
When Gabriell hur gret graciously,
    That holy pinakell preved of price,
    ' Of thee schall springe a full swete spice.' 5
Then seide the meydon full mildely,
    ' And sithen I ame so litill of price,
Ecce ancilla domini ! '

' Heill be thou, gracious withouten gilte,
    Meydon borne alderbest ! 10
Within thy body schall be fulfilled
    That all these prophetes han preched so preste ;
    God will be borne within thy brest,'
Then seide tho meydon full mildely,
    ' To me he schall be a welcome geste ; 15
Ecce ancilla domini ! '

Bot when sche sawe an angell bright,
    Sche was aferde in all her thoght,
And of his speche elles wondur sche might.
    Then seide tho angell, ' Drede thee noght ! 20
    A blestful tithinge I have thee broght.'
Then seide tho meydon full mildely,
' As God will, so be it wroght ;
Ecce ancilla domini ! '

That angell seide, ' Conceive thou schalt 25
    Within thy body bright
A childe that Jesu schall be called,
    That is grate Goddes son of might.
    Thou art his tabernakull idight.'
Then seide tho meydon full mildely, 30
    ' Sethen he seide never ayeyns right,
Ecce ancilla domini !

' Call him Jesu of Nazareth,
    God and mon in on degree.
Right as mon schall suffur dethe 35
    And regne in David dignite.
    A blestfull worde he sende to thee.'
Then seide tho meydon full mildely,
    ' He schall be dere welcum to me ;
Ecce ancilla domini !
' 40

' Bot with mannes mode never I mette ;
Now, lorde, how schall I go with childe ? '
    Then seide tho angell that her grett, '
    With none suche thou schalt be filede,
Tho holy goste will in thee bildon.' 45    
    Then seide tho meydon full mildely,
' As God will, so be it done ;
Ecce ancilla domini !

When tho angell was vanesched awey,
    Sche stode al in hur thoght, 50
And to herselfe sche can sey,
    ' All Goddes wille schall be wroght ;
For he is well of all witte,
    As witnesses welle his story.'
At that worde knot was knitte ; 55
    ' Ecce ancilla domini !


10. alderbest, best of all.

12. preste, readily.

21. tithinge, tiding.

44. filede, defiled.

Notes to LVIII, p. 350.

Advoc. Lib. 19. 3. 1. Printed Englishe Studien, xiv. 401.

A variant is in the Howard de Walden MS., No. 10.

Extended Citations.

Advocates' Library 19. 3. 1., Edinburgh. Late XV century.

Englishe Studien, xiv. 401.
Karl Bruel, "Zwei Mittelenglishe Christmas Carols," in Eugen Kölbing, ed., Englishe Studien: Organ für englische philologie, Vol. XIV. (Leipzig: O. R. Reisland, 1890), pp. 401-2. Seven verses are reproduced.

The Howard de Walden Ms. is privately owned. The note in the text concerning the manuscript says:

Howard de Walden MS. The MS. appears from a note to have been given on 12 December, 1418, to an anonymous possessor by Master Thomas Turke, formerly vicar perpetual of Brading, Isle of Wight, then a Carthusian at Henton, Somerset. Various notes refer to places in Somerset and Dorset. Most of the contents have music. The MS. was sold at Sotheby's, 14 December, 1903 (lot 678) and again in 1904; see Madan, v. Corrections xxviii under no. 21956. Privately printed as Music, Cantelenas, Songs, etc.

See: L.S.M, ed., Music, Cantelenas, Songs, etc., From An Early Fifteenth Century Manuscript (London: Printed at the Dryden Press, by J. Davy & Sons, 1906). One hundred copies were privately printed for Lord Howard de Walden. The volume consists of facsimile of the music and transcription into modern notation on opposite pages. Twelve of these songs are in English and four in French. Copies are available at Google Books.

This carol was transcribed into four verses, as seen below.

 Ecce_Ancilla_Domini-pdf_56.jpg (66046 bytes)

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