The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

I Am Christmas

For Christmas, Epiphany

Alternate Title: "Farewell To Christmas"

Words: Attributed to James Ryman, 15th Century from, Balliol College MS. 354. f. 244 v.
Translator: Unknown
Compare: Here Haue I Dwellyd With More & Lasse (Flügel)

Compare: Now Have Good Day, Now Have Good Day! (Rickert)
Here Have I Dwelt In Joyfulness (Weston)

Now have good day, now have good day!
I am Cristmas, and now I go by way.

1. Here have I dwelled with more or lass
From Halowtide till Candelmas,
And now must I from you hens pass;
    Now have good day.

2. I take my leve of king and knight,
And erl, baron, and lady bright;
To wilderness I must me dight;
    Now have good day.!

3. And at the good lord of this hall
I take my leve, and of gestes all;
Me think I here Lent doth call;
    Now have good day!

4. And at every worthy officere,
Marshall, panter, and butlere
I take my leve as for this yere;
    Now have good day!

5. Another yere I trust I shall
Make mery in this hall,
If rest and peace in England fall;
    Now have good day!

6. But oftentimes I have herd say
That he is loth to part away
That often biddeth 'Have good day!";
    Now have good day!

7. Now fare ye well, all in fere,
Now fare ye well for all this yere;
Yet for my sake make ye good chere;
    Now have good day!

James Ryman was a Franciscan friar of Canterbury, who created a manuscript containing 119 carols and 166 lyrics -- most of which related to Christmas. Ryman was ordained as an acolyte in 1476. The manuscript is preserved in the Cambridge University Library, MS Ee 1. 12, dated to 1492.

At least one of Ryman's carols were included in a volume printed in London by Richard Kele , c. 1550,  Christmas carroles newely Imprynted. The Kele volume(s) were reprinted in Edward Bliss Reed, Christmas Carols Printed In The Sixteenth Century (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1932).  Although Reed quotes a portion of this carol (I Am Christmas), no attribution was made and no mention of Ryman was found in the 64 page introduction.

This carol can also be found in Richard Greene, ed., A Selection of English Carols (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1962). Greene identifies this as a 16th century carol found in the Balliol College, Oxford, MS. 354. f. 244 v. (Carol 38) , but does not identify Ryman as the author. Other carols in this volume are identified as having been authored by Ryman (i.e., possibly Carol 1, "Fare wele, aduent: cristemas is cum," plus Carols 14, 18, 60, 65). Greene notes that carol 18 (In Bethlehem, That Noble Place) was reprinted in the Kele carol book.

An excerpt from Greene's notes on this carol:

Like No. 37 ["Of the Purification"] this carol puts 'the end of Christmas' at Candlemas rather than Twelfth Day. See note on No 2. Less usual in popular tradition is the notion of l. 2 that Christmas beginning as early as 'Hallowtide', i.e., the first of November, though it was the medieval custom for the King to announce at All Hallows his election of the place at which he would spend his Christmas....

A closely similar conception of farewell to Christmas is the basis of the delightful seventeenth-century song for Candlemas beginning:

Christmas hath made an end,
Welladay, Welladay.

See: Christemas Hath Made An End (circa 17th century).

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