The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

I Heard A Mess Of Merry Shepherds

Words: English Traditional, About 1611
MS Egerton, 2009-12, Fol. 8

Source: Edith Rickert, Ancient English Christmas Carols: 1400-1700 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1914), p. 109.

I heard a mess of merry shepherds sing
    A joyful song full of sweet delight;
Their ditty was how that a King
    In Bethlehem was born that night,
    Whose mother was a virgin (fair and) bright,
        And Mary hight her blessed name,
            A queen of fame
Who for the fault of Adam's sin
Was brought abed even in an inn.
    A joyful news let us rejoice,
        With heart and voice;
    Yet how can we but weep alas,
    To see between an ox and ass,
In manger poor the Babe He lies
That made the world and rule the skies.

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