I Am Here, Syre Crystes Mass
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).
Source: Joseph Ritson, ed., Ancient Songs and Ballads from The Reign of King Henry the Second to the Revolution. Vol. 2. (London: Payne and Foss, 1829), p. 17. In the edition of 1790, p. 128; In the edition of 1877, p. 161. Although Ritson's manuscript contained the music, Ritson himself did not reproduce it.
This carol requires the installation of the "Junicode" font for best display. You can obtain a copy of this font from 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. See notes in F A Q.
Nowell, Nowell, Nowell, Nowell,
Who ys ther that syngyth so, Nowell, Nowell?
I am here, syre
Wellcome my lord syre Chrystesmasse
Welcome to us all both more and lasse;
Com ner, Nowell.
garde, bewe syre, Tydynges y you bryng,
A mayde hath born a chylde full yong,
The weche causeth yew to syng,
Criste is now
born of a pure mayde,
In an oxe stalle he ys layde,
Wherefor syng we alle atte a brayde,
par tutte la company,
Make gode chere and be ryght mery,
And syng with us now joyfully,
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."
Note from Rev. Richard R. Terry, A Medieval Carol Book, p. 59.
Dieu, &c.,: “God keep you, fair gentlemen.”
All at a Brayde: All together [to start, here 'all at once.']
Buvez, &c.: “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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