The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

I Am Here, Sir Christėmas

In Die Nativitatis

For Christmas

Words and Music: Rev. Richard Smart (or Smerte), Rector (1435-1477) of Plymtree, Devon, and vicar-choral at Exeter Cathedral (1428-ca. 1466). The carol was likely composed ca. 1461-1477. He was also the author of one of the Boar's Head carols (“The borys hede that we bryng here”), among several other carols in Ritson's Manuscript (British Library, MS. Addit. 5665, f.8.v. ff).

Source: Edith Rickert, Ancient English Christmas Carols: 1400-1700 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1914), p. 218. Dr. Rickert had no separate notes about this carol.

"Nowell, nowell, nowell, nowell."
"Who is there that singeth so nowell, nowell, nowell?"

1. "I am here, Sir Christėmas."
"Welcome, my lord Sir Christėmas,
Welcome to us all, both more and less,
    Come near, nowell."

2. "Dieus wous garde, bewe sieurs,1 tidings I you bring:
A maid hath borne a child full ying,
The which causeth (you) for to sing,
    Nowell.

3. "Christ is now born of a pure maid,
In an ox-stall he is laid,
Whereof sing we alle at a brayde,2
    Nowell.

4. "Bevvex bien par tutte la company,
Make good cheer and be right merry,
And sing with us now joyfully,
    Nowell.

Notes:

1. Elsewhere byewe syre. Return

2. In unison. Return

Sheet Music from Sir Richard Runciman Terry, A Medieval Carol Book: The Melodies Chiefly from MMS. in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, and in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge. (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd., 1932), Carol #32, pp. 57-59
(British Library, Additional MSS. 5665.)

 AMCB70.jpg (700683 bytes) AMCB71.jpg (639689 bytes) AMCB72.jpg (660474 bytes)

Sheet Music from John Stafford Smith, Musica Antiqua, Vol. I of II. (London: Preston, 97, Strand, 1812), p. 26. "Another In die Nativitatis."

I_Am_Here_Sir_Christmas-Smith-Mus_Ant-I-26.jpg (87429 bytes)

Note from Rev. Richard R. Terry, A Medieval Carol Book, p. 59.

  • Dieu, etc.,: “God keep you, fair gentlemen.”

  • All at a Brayde: All together [to start, here 'all at once.']

  • Buvez, etc.: “Drink well, throughout all the company.

Editor's Note:

This very old carol is one of a number of carols, mummers' plays, or texts featuring a personification of Christmas, and, in this one, we have a ceremony welcoming “Sir Christmas” into the season. For the notes on this carol, please see Sir Christmas.

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