The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

From Virgin's Womb This Day Did Spring

A Carol for Christmas Day

Words: Francis Kinwelmersch

Music: William Byrd, Songs of Sundrie Natures (1589)

Source: G. E. P. Arkwright, Ed., Songs of Sundry Natures by William Byrd, 1589. Twelve Songs To Five Voices. The Old English Edition No. 8. (London: Joseph Williams and Oxford: James Parker & Co., 1893), No. 35, pp. 17-18. In the original edition, the chorus appears as No. 14. Sheet music is found on pp. 90-109.

1. From Virgin's womb this day, this day did spring
    The precious Seed that only saved man :
This day let man rejoice and sweetly sing,
    Since on this day our Saviour first began :
This day did Christ man's soul from death remove
With glorious saints to dwell in Heaven above.
                    Rejoice, rejoice, with heart and voice,
                    In Christ His birth this day rejoice.

2. This day to man came pledge of perfect peace,
    This day to man came love and unity,
This day man's grief began for to surcease,
    This day did man receive a remedy
For each offence and every deadly sin
With guilty heart that erst he wandered in.
                    Rejoice, rejoice, with heart and voice,
                    In Christ His birth this day rejoice.

3. In Christ His flock let love be surely plac'd,
    From Christ His flock let concord hate expel,
Of Christ His flock let love be so embrac'd
    As we in Christ and Christ in us may dwell.
Christ is the author of sweet unity
From whence proceedeth all felicity.
                    Rejoice, rejoice, with heart and voice,
                    In Christ His birth this day rejoice.

4. O sing unto this glittering, glorious King,
    O praise His name let every living thing ;
Let heart and voice like bells of silver ring
    The comfort that this day to man doth bring :
Let lute, let shawm, with sound of sweet delight
These joys of Christ His birth this day recite.
                    Rejoice, rejoice, with heart and voice,
                    In Christ His birth this day rejoice.

Note from Text.

The Chorus of this Carol (Rejoice) being of four parts is printed among the four-part songs in the original edition, where it appears as number 24.

Sheet Music from G. E. P. Arkwright, Ed., Songs of Sundry Natures by William Byrd, 1589. Twelve Songs To Five Voices. The Old English Edition No. 8. (London: Joseph Williams and Oxford: James Parker & Co., 1893), No. 35, pp. 90-109.

Verse 1: pp. 90-94

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Chorus: pp. 95-99

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Verses 2 & 3: pp. 100-104

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Chorus: pp. 105-109

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An arrangement of this carol by Christian Mondrup can be found at IMSLP, From Virgin's Womb (Byrd, William).

Also found in Edith Rickert, Ancient English Christmas Carols: 1400-1700 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1914), For Christmas Day, p. 269.

Also found in A. H. Bullen, A Christmas Garland (London: John C. Nimmo, 1885), pp. 140-141. Bullen's note from page 264:

"The author, Francis Kinwelmersh, was a member of Gray’s Inn. He had a brother Antony, who also wrote verse."

Also found in William Henry Husk, Songs of the Nativity (London: John Camden Hotten, 1868), who had this Note:

This and the following carol [An Earthly Tree A Heavenly Fruit It Bare] are taken from a rare musical publication bearing the title of "Songs of sundrie natures, some of grautie, and others of myrth, fit for all companies and voyces. Lately made and composed into Musicke of 3, 4, 5, and 5, parts: and published for the delight of all such as take pleasure in the exercise of that Art. By William Byrd, one of the Gentlemen of the Queenes Maiesties honorable Chappel. Imprinted at London by Thomas East, the assigne of William Byrd, and are to be sold at the house of the sayd T. East, being in Aldersgate streete, at the signe of the blacke Horse. 1589.Cum priuilegio Regić Maiestatis." Each of the two pieces is designated, "A Carowle for Christmas day." Prior to its publication by Byrd, the present carol had appeared in the collection of poems entitled "The Paradise of Dainty Devices," 1576, with the initials, F. K. (those of Francis Kinwelmersch) attached to it. Both this and the [preceding] carol are here given from a copy of Byrd's work in the Library of the Sacred Harmonic Society. Neither has hitherto been reproduced in any collection of carols.

There were two subsequent re-printings of Songs of Sundrie Natures. The first was by Sir Egerton Brydges, ed., The Paradise of Dainty Deuices. (London: Robert Triphook, 1810). In the Introduction, the Editor observed: " An account of the principal contributors to this collection may be found in the third volume of WARTON’s admirable History of English Poetry, and in the Theatrum Poetarum Anglicanorum. Yet it may be proper to give a catalogue of them here, accompanied by a few short Biographical Notices." After this, he gave a "Catalogue of the Writers in this Collection, with Biographical Notices." On pp. xiv-xv the editor had this note:

Very little is known of this author, or rather translator. He was a Member of Gray’s Inn, and he and his brother Anthony were gentlemen of Essex, had the character of being noted poets of their time; and were the intimate friends of George Gascoigne. In conjunction with this poet, Francis Kinwelmersh translated the Jocasta of Euripides; and Warton commends the Ode to Concord by him, as exhibiting great elegance of expression and versification. It is an original insertion, not being in Euripides. Warton has transcribed it into his History, Vol. III. p. 374. It strikes me that the productions of this author, in the present Collection, are inferior in general to those of the contributors already named. The stanzas On Learning, at f. 14, are pretty.

The text of the poem on p. 4. The discussion of the play "Jocasta," translated by Gascoigne and Kinwelmersh, was in Thomas Warton's The History of English Poetry, Vol. 3. (London: J. Dodsley, et al, 1781), Section XXXIX, pp. 372-376.

The second re-print was by Hyder Edward Rollins, ed., The Paradise of Dainty Devices (1576-1606) (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1927). Prof. Rollins examined all nine of the existing editions of this collection, which he observed was the most popular poetical miscellany of Queen Elizabeth's reign. The text of the poem was #9, FOR CHRISTMAS DAY BY F. K., p. 12. In the Introduction, there is a section titled "The Contributors to the Paradise." And on pp. liv-lv there is this note:


Nine poems are assigned to Francis Kinwelmarsh in all the editions (A-I): Nos. 9, 11, 13, 18, 19, 21, 40, 41, and 75. No. 98 is ascribed to him in A-C, to the Earl of Essex in F-I, and to both in D. It is torn out of E. That Kinwelmarsh was the author of No. 98 seems to me certain.

Francis Kinwelmarsh perhaps came from an Essex family, his father may have been the Richard Kinwelmarsh who in 1562 held the manor of Newton Hall near Great Dunmow, but he was born in London. Mrs. Stopes, in Shakespeare's Industry, page 283, points out that in the register of Allhallows, London, the very first entry is: "Imprimis, the 18th day of Oct. 1538, was christened Frances the sonne of Richard Kyndelmershe," and that in the same register occur also the names of Mary and Marcion, daughter and son of Edmond Kynwelmarsh, who were christened on March 26, 1557, and September 12, 1558, respectively.

In 1557 Francis entered Gray's Inn, where he was followed in 1561 and 1563 by Anthony and Robert Kinwelmarsh, probably his brothers. Francis was a fellow-student at Gray's Inn with Gascoigne, with whom he collaborated in the translation of the Phoenissae of Euripides in 1566. This blank-verse play, Jocasta, was performed in Gray's Inn Hall in 1566. On "themes" suggested by Francis and Anthony Kinwelmarsh, Gascoigne wrote two poems. 1 Kinwelmarsh was elected M.P. for Bossiney, Cornwall, on April 27, 1572, the same year in which Gascoigne was elected for Midhurst. He is referred to in complimentary terms in William Webbe's Discourse of English Poetrie (1586) ; 2 and in John Bodenham's Belvedere, or the Garden of the Muses (1600), he is one of the deceased authors to whom the compiler gave his "due right."

Prof. Rollins' Footnotes.

1. See his Complete Poems, ed. Hazlitt, i, 63-65. Return

2. Gregory Smith, Elizabethan Critical Essays, i, 245. Return

Editor's Note

The highly respected Dr. Hyder Edward Rollins, Ph.D., was Gurney Professor of English at Harvard University. The following text was the result of his careful examination of available editions of The Paradise of Dainty Devices:

            Reioyce reioyce, with hart and voyce,
            In Christes birth this day reioyce.

From Virgins wombe, this day dyd spring, 5
The precious seede that onely saued man:
This day let man reioyce and sweetely sing,
Since on this day saluation fyrst began.
This day dyd Christe mans soule from death remooue,
With glorious saintes to dwell in heauen aboue. 10

This day to man came pledge of perfect peace,
This day to man came loue and vnitie:
This day mans greefe began for to surcease,
This day did man receyue a remedie.
For eche offence, and euery deadly sinne, 15
With guiltie hart, that erst he wandred in.

In Christes flocke, let loue be surely plaste,
From Christes flocke, let Concorde hate expell:
Of Christes flocke, let loue be so embraste,
As we in Christe, and Christe in vs may dwell. 20
Christe is the aucthour of all vnitie,
From whence proceedeth all felicitie.

O syng vnto this glittering glorious king,
O prayse his name, let euery liuing thing:
Let hart and voyce like Belles of syluer ring, 25
The comfort that this day did bring.
Let Lute, let Shalme, with sounde of sweete delight,
The ioy of Christes birth this day resight.

The text found in Sir Egerton Brydges, ed., The Paradise of Dainty Deuices. (London: Robert Triphook, 1810), "For Christmas day," p. 4, was identical to that of Dr. Rollins.

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