The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Hostis Herodes impie

Herodes, thou wykked fo, wharof ys thy dredinge ?

For Christmas

Words: William Herebert, ca. 1330

Music: Unknown

Source: Source: Thomas Wright and James Orchard Halliwell, eds., ReliquiŠ AntiquŠ. Vol. 1 of 2. (London: John Russell Smith, 1845), pp. 86-87

One of two Hymns and Antiphones written by William Herebert, a Franciscan friar and famous preacher about 1330. From a MS. on vellum, written with his own haud, formerly inthe possession of Mr. Fermor of Tusmore, in Oxfordshire, and afterwards in that of Mr. Heber, in the sale catalogue of whose books (1835) it was numbered 1470.

Because Middle English contains letters not found in modern English, I've used a special font, "Junius Modern," created by Professor Peter S. Baker, Professor of English, University of Virginia on this page.  You can obtain a copy of this font from his website Old English at the University of Virginia (or right click here, and then select "Save File As" to save a copy of the zipped file to your computer).  This font must be downloaded and installed before this page will display accurately.

Herodes, thou wykked fo, wharof ys thy dredinge ?
And why art thou so sore agast of Cristes to-cominge ?
The reveth he nouth erthlich god, that maketh ous hevene kynges.

Ibant magi.

The kynges wenden here way and foleweden the sterre,
And sothfast ly§th wyth sterre lyth souhten vrom so verre,
And
sheuden wel that he ys God, in gold, and stor, and mirre.

Lavacra puri gurgitis.

Crist, y-cleped hevene lomb, so com to seynt Jon,
And of hym was y-was§e that sunne nadde non,
To halewen our vollouth water, that sunne havet vor-don.

Novum genus potentiŠ.

A newe myghte he cudde, ther he was at a feste,
He made vulle wyth shyr water six cannes hy the leste,
Bote the water turnde into wyn, thorou Crystes oune heste.

Gloria tibi, domine.

Wele, Loverd, bee myd the, that shewedest the to-day,
Wyth the vadur and the holy gost, withouten endeday.

N.H.

Editor's Note:

This carol shares a title with the well-known Latin hymn, Hostis Herodes Impie, which has a great many translations, one of which is this early example: O Herod, Wicked Enemy, Primer, 1619.

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