The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

In Bethlehem City

For Christmas

Words and Music: English traditional

Source: Broadside printed by Swindells, Printer, between 1796 and 1853

Found in the Harding Collection at Bodleian Library, Oxford, Harding B 25(382) | Image
Broadside Ballads Online

Compare: In Bethlehem City (1661) - from New Carolls for this Merry Time of Christmas

See: In Bethlehem City - Notes

1. In Bethlehem city, in Jewry it was,
Where Joseph and Mary together did pass;
And there to be taxed as many one more,
When Caesar commanded, the truth it was so.

2. And when they had entered the city so fair,
Great numbers of people so mighty were there:
Joseph and Mary their substance being small
Could get at these inns no lodging at all.

3. So they were constrained in a sable to lie,
Where oxen and asses there used to be;
Their lodging, though simple, they thought it no scorn,
And early next morning sweet Jesus was born

4. The King of all glory to the world being brought,
Great store of fine linen to wrap him was sought,
And when she swaddled our Saviour so sweet
All in an ox manger she laid him to sleep.

5. Then God sent an angel from heaven so high,
To some certain poor shepherds who in fields then did lie,
And bade them no longer in sorrow to stay,
For Jesus their Saviour was born on that day.

6. And presently after the shepherds did spy,
Great numbers of angels appear in the sky,
Who merrily talked and sweetly did sing,
All glory to God and their heavenly King.

Broadside "Harding B 25(382)"

Harding B 25(382) - Swindells, Printer, between 1796 and 1853: 2 carols
Carol I. Sinners' Redemption (In Bethlehem city, in Jewry it was)
Carol II. Christmas Hymn (Christmas now is drawing near at hand)

Harding B 25(382)-09439.jpg (587464 bytes)


The earliest version is said to have been published in New Carolls for this Merry Time of Christmas (1661), with 13 stanzas of 2-line verses, 11 syllables each.

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