The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Ho! Steward, Bid My Servants

Words J. M. Neale (1818-1866), reverently altered here and there to suit an ancient ecclesiastical pre-Reformation melody, now known as John Anderson, my joe, John. Here it is harmonized by Charles Woiod.

Source: Charles Wood and George Ratcliffe Woodward, The Cambridge Carol-Book, Being Fifty-Two Songs For Christmas, Easter, And Other Seasons (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1924), #14.

1. 'Ho! steward, bid my servants
    Go forth, and hither call
For guests, my friends and neighbours,
    To sup with me in hall;
That, at this blessed season,
    Which comes but once a year,
We may, as folk in olden days,
    Rejoice, and make good cheer!'

2. ‘Sire, shall I bid the noble,
    That banquets in his state,
With purple and fine linen,
    With gold and silver plate?
'Nay, bid me not the noble,
    For he hath got enow;
But bring me in the country man,
    That liveth by the plow.’

3. Sire, shall I bid in Dives,
    For it is very plain,
If ye give him a banquet,
    He'll banquet you again?’
‘Nay, bid not hither Dives,
    For it shall ne'er be thus,
Bat go among the alley-lanes,
    And fetch in Lazarus.’

4. ‘Sire, shall I bid the merchant,
    That hath upon the seas
His fleets of caravellas,
    And right great argosies?’
‘Nay, bid me not the merchant,
    But go and fetch the clerk,
That with the bandog goes to rest,
    And riseth with the lark,’

5. 'And wherefore must I turn me
From noble and from rich?
And wherefore seek the poor man,
That dwells is lane and ditch ?’
‘Man, lay to heart the reason,
Because the King of all,
Though rich, grew poor, for mortal sake,
And born was in a stall.

6. ‘For these be they, good steward,
Whom God doth chiefly choose,
And these, His poorer brethren,
No man may dare refuse,
So, in this bleak December,
Then make we best good cheer,
When, for the sake of Babe Jesú,
The poor we welcome here.’

Sheet Music

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