The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

I Sing of a Maiden

For Christmas

Words and Music: English Folk, Fifteenth century
from The Sloane Manuscript

Compare: I Sing Of A Maiden That Is Makeles (Chambers & Sidgwick, 1907)

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

1. I sing of a maiden
That is makeless;1
King of all kings
To her son she ches.2

2. He came all so3 still
Where his mother was,
As dew in April
That falleth on the grass.

3. He came all so still
To his motherís bower,
As dew in April
That falleth on the flower.

4. He came all so still
Where his mother lay,
As dew in April
That falleth on the spray.

5. Mother and maiden
Was never none but she;
Well may such a lady
GodŽs mother be.

Notes:

1. Matchless. Return

2. Chose. Return

3. Bullen gives "also" which is notes means "as" in this context." Return

Sheet Music: Richard R. Terry, Twelve Christmas Carols (London: J. Curwen & Sons, Ltd., 1912), p. 18.
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF

Rev. Terry gives this song in two verses of eight lines each, being verses one and two, and three and four, above. He omits the fifth verse.

Also found in A. H. Bullen, A Christmas Garland (London: John C. Nimmo, 1885), p. 4, who notes that this song was from Wright's Songs and Carols from a Manuscript in the British Museum of the Fifteenth Century (Warton Society [1856], a Collection printed from Sloan MS. 2593, temp. Henry VI.). He also adds that "This perfect little poem will be new to most readers. It has been passed over by the collectors."

Editor's Note: The first and fifth verses have a different melody than that of the second through fourth. See Dearmer, et al., eds., The Oxford Book of Carols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1928, Carol 128. For a different setting, omitting the fifth verse, see Erik Routley, The University Carol Book (Brighton: H. Freeman & Co., 1961), #54.

Verses 2 through 5 are circulated as a poem with the title of "He Came In So Still."

Note that Mr. Wright edited a second collection that was also a manuscript from a professional musician in the fifteenth century: Songs and Carols Now First Printed From a Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century (Published by Richards for the Percy Society, 1847).

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