A Carol for Christmas Day
In Die Nativitatis
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).
I Am Here, Syre Crystes Mass - Ritson, 1829
I Am Here, Syre Christmasse - Sandys, 1833
I am here, syre Crystesmass - Thomas Wright, 1841
Sir Christmas - Vizetelly, 1851; Sylvester, 1861
I Am Here, Sir Christhismas - Husk, 1868
I Am Here, Sir Christemas - Rickert, 1910
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Who is there, that singeth so, Noel,
1. I am here, Sir Christhismas,
Welcome, my lord Sir Christhismas,
Welcome to all both more or less;1
Come near, Noel.
2. Dieu vous garde, beau Sire,
tidings I you bring,
A maid hath born a Child full young,
The which causeth for to sing,
3. Christ is now born of a pure maid,
In an ox stall He is laid,
Wherefore sing we all at a braid,2
4. Buvez bien paar toute la
Make good cheer and be right merry,
And sing with us now joyfully,
1. Great and small. Return
2. Suddenly. 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.)
Sheet Music from John Stafford Smith, Musica Antiqua, Vol. I of II. (London: Preston, 97, Strand, 1812), p. 26. "Another In die Nativitatis."
This carol is from the before-mentioned manuscript, formerly Ritson's, and now in the British Museum, of the early part of Henry VIII's reign [15009-1547]. It has the peculiarity of having scraps of French incorporated into it, and this may perhaps point to the period at which Henry met Francis I on the celebrated “Field of the Cloth of Gold,” as that of its production. The music, in three parts (soprano, alto, and tenor), which accompanies the carol in the manuscript, will be found in John Stafford Smith's “Musica Antiqua,” i. 26.
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.
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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