The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

I am here, syre Crystesmass

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: Thomas Wright, Specimens of Old Christmas Carols, Selected from Manuscripts and Printed Books (London: The Percy Society, 1841)

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 syngith so nowell, nowell, nowell?

I am here, syre Crystesmass
Wellcome, my lord syre Christemasse
Wellcome to us all both more and lasse;

                    come nere, nowell.

Diew wous garde, byewe syre, tydnges y 3ou bryng,
A mayde hathe borne a chylde fulle 3ong,
The weche causeth for to syng,


Criste is now born of a pure mayde,
In an oxe stalle he ys layde,
Wherefor syng we alle atte a brayde,


Bevvez bien 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.)

 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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