The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

The First Good Joy Our Mary Had

For Christmas.

Words and Music: English Traditional

Source: William Sandys, Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern (London: Richard Beckley, 1833)

1. The first good joy our Mary had,
    It was the joy of one;
To see her own Son Jesus
    To suck at her breast bone;

To suck at her breast bone,
    Good man, and blessed may he be,
Both Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
    And Christ to eternity. [1]

2. The next good joy our Mary had,
    It was the joy of two;
To see her own son, Jesus
    To make the lame to go: [1b]

To make the lame to go,
    Good man, and blessed may he be,
Both Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
    And Christ to eternity.

3. The next good joy our Mary had,
    It was the joy of three;
To see her own son, Jesus
    To make the blind to see: [2]

To make the blind to see,
    Good man, and blessed may he be,
Both Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
    And Christ to eternity.

4. The next good joy our Mary had,
    It was the joy of four;
To see her own son, Jesus
    To read the Bible o'er: [3]

To read the Bible o'er,
    Good man, and blessed may he be,
Both Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
    And Christ to eternity.

5. The next good joy our Mary had,
    It was the joy of five;
To see her own son, Jesus
    To bring the dead alive: [4]

To bring the dead alive,
    Good man, and blessed may he be,
Both Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
    And Christ to eternity.

6. The next good joy our Mary had,
    It was the joy of six;
To see her own son, Jesus Christ,
    To wear the crucifix: [5]

To wear the crucifix,
    Good man, and blessed may he be,
Both Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
    And Christ to eternity.

7. The next good joy our Mary had,
    It was the joy of seven;
To see her own son, Jesus
    To wear the crown of heaven: [6]

To wear the crown of Heaven
    Good man, and blessed may he be
Both Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
    And Christ to eternity.

The first seven joys were given by Sandys;
the following five joys were added by Husk (The Twelve Joys).

8. The next good joy our Mary Had,
    It was the joy of eight,
To see our blessed Saviour
    Turn darkness into light.

Turn darkness into light,
    Good man, and blessed may he be
Both Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
    And Christ to eternity.

9. The next good joy our Mary had,
    It was the joy of nine,
To see our blessed Saviour
    Turn water into wine;

Turn water into wine,
    Good man, and blessed may he be
Both Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
    And Christ to eternity.

10. The next good joy our Mary had   
    It was the joy of ten,
To see our blessed Saviour
    Write without a pen;

Write without a pen,
    Good man, and blessed may he be
Both Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
    And Christ to eternity.

11. The next good joy our Mary had,
    It was the joy of eleven,
To see our blessed Saviour
    Shew the gates of Heaven;

Shew the gates of Heaven,
    Good man, and blessed may he be
Both Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
    And Christ to eternity.

12. The next good joy our Mary had,
    It was the joy of twelve
To see our blessed Saviour
    Shut close the gates of hell;

Shut close the gates of hell,
    Good man, and blessed may he be
Both Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
    And Christ to eternity.

Two additional verses:

The next good joy that Mary had,
    It was the joy of [number]
To see her own Son Jesus
    To bring the crooked straight.

To bring the crooked straight,
    Good man, How happy may you be:
O Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
    And Christ to eternity

The next good joy that Mary had,
    It was the joy of [number]
To see her own Son Jesus
    Bring up ten gentlemen.

Bring up ten gentlemen,
    Good man, How happy may you be:
O Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
    And Christ to eternity

Notes:

1. All other sources give a different last line of the refrain: To all eternity. Return

1b. Or: Making the lame to go. Return

2. Or: Making the blind to see. Return

3. Or: Reading the Bible o'er. Return

4. Or: Raising the dead to life. Return

5. Or: Upon the Crucifix. Return

6. Or: Ascending into Heaven. Return

One source differs in the following respects

Alternate First Verse:

1. The first good joy that Mary had,
  It was the joy of one;
To see the blessed Jesus Christ
  When he was first her son:
When he was first her son, good man;
  And blessed may he be,
Both Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
  To all eternity.

Alternate third line in each verse:

To see her own son, Jesus Christ,

Alternate ending to verse 6:

Upon the crucifix:
Other versions include:
The Seven Rejoices of Mary
The Blessings of Mary

Hugh Keyte and Andrew Parrott have a lengthy history of this carol following carol # 131 in The New Oxford Book of Carols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992). Another excellent history can be found in Ian Bradley's, The Penguin Book of Carols (London: Penguin, 1999), Carol #76.

Sheet Music from Rev. Charles Lewis Hutchins, Carols Old and Carols New (Boston: Parish Choir, 1916), Carol #429
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF

Music also available at An Online Christmas Songbook

Sandys' Note (1833):

This [is] taken from popular broad-side carols, [and contains] rather curious legends, of which may have already been observed in the old carol for St. Stephen. This ... carol is similar to the old one called "Joyis Fyve." [The Ferst Joye As I Zu Telle]

Also found in Joshua Sylvester, A Garland of Christmas Carols, Ancient and Modern Including Some Never Before Given In Any Collection. Edited, With Notes. (London: John Camden Hotten, 1861), pp. 132-5:

Numeral Hymns were common in the olden time. Frequently they were set as tasks for children to acquire, and he received most praise who could ascend correctly to the highest number.

The following is one of the commonest, at the same time that it is one of the most ancient, of all our popular Carols. The original, preserved among the Sloane MSS., and of a date not later than the fourteenth century, is entitled " Joyes Fyve." As a specimen I give the first verse.

Ye ferste joye as i zu telle
Wt mary met seynt Gab'elle,
Heyl mary i grete ye welle,
wt fadr & sone & holy gost.

Perhaps some apology is necessary for the expression which is made to rhyme with "one" in the first verse. Another word was not easily found, and the taste of the time was widely different from what it is now. At first I was inclined to omit the Carol, but its popularity pleaded its insertion.

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.

Also found in William Henry Husk, Songs of the Nativity. London: John Camden Hotten, 1868:

This is one of the most popular of carols. The earliest known version is in a manuscript of the fourteenth century, where it is entitled "Joyes Fyve." The version called "The Seven Joys" (the first seven verses that are here given) is, and has been for a very long time past, annually reprinted by the printers of carol-sheets throughout the entire length and breadth of the land. The unfortunate poet's difficulty of finding a rhyme for "one" in the first verse had led him to use a rather singular expression; but we may be certain nothing irreverent was intended, and the text as it stands, homely though it be, appeals to the human heart much more forcibly than some modern alterations of it, such as,

"To see our blessed Saviour
Sit upon the throne;"

which, apart from the impropriety of making the site of her holy Son in His glory, the first of the blessed Virgin's joys, puts wholly aside the incident which, if not all men, certainly all women, must admit naturally caused the Holy Mother her greatest happiness. The extension of the Seven joys to Twelve is confined to the northern parts of the country, being only found on broadsides printed at Newcastle late in the last, or early in the present century. In the present version the first seven verses are given from the older and most generally followed copies, the Newcastle version, whence the last five verses are taken, having corrupted the former portion of the carol to a very great extent. In its extended form the carol has never yet been given in any collection.

The first seven verses were also found in A. H. Bullen, A Christmas Garland (London: John C. Nimmo, 1885), pp. 55-7 under the title Joys Seven. He also notes "There is an older carol of a similar sort, entitled, 'Joyis Fyve.'" [The Ferst Joye As I Zu Telle]

Editor's Note:

There are numerous carols enumerating the joys of Mary (including 5, 7, and 12), including.

  1. Off The 5 Joyes Of Owr Lady (Wright, 1847)

  2. The Ferst Joye As I Zu Telle ("Joyes Fyve") (Sandys, 1833)

  3. The Ferste Joye, As I 3ou Telle (Wright, 1856)
  4. The First Good Joy Our Mary Had (Sandys) (a.k.a. Joyes Seven; in total, 12 Joys - 7 from Sandys, 5 from Husk) (with sheet music and notes) [this page]

  5. The Five Joys (Rickert)

  6. The Five Joys of the Virgin (Wright, 1845)

  7. The Seven Joys of Mary - Version 1 (Bramley & Stainer) (with sheet music)

  8. The Seven Joys Of Mary - Version 2 (Shaw and Dearmer) (with sheet music)

  9. The Seven Joys of Mary - RR Terry (with sheet music)

  10. The Seven Joys Of Mary (John Jacob Niles) (with note)

  11. The Seven Rejoices Of Mary (RR Terry)

  12. The Ten Joys Of Christmas (Sharp) (with sheet music and note)

This is one of many "counting" songs among the hymns and carols of Christmas. See the notes to the Twelve Days of Christmas.

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