The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

In Bethlehem, In That Fair City

Words: English Traditional, Ms. 354, f. 222b, Balliol College, Oxford, Fifteenth Century

Source: Edith Rickert, Ancient English Christmas Carols: 1400-1700 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1914), pp. 183-4.

To bliss God bring us all and some,
Christe, Redemptor omnium

1. In Bethlehem, in that fair city,
A Child was born of our Lady,
Lord and prince that He should be,
    A solis ortus cardine

2. Children were slain (full) great plenty,
Jesus, for the love of Thee;
Let us never damnėd be,
    Hostis Herodes impie.

3. He was born of our Lady,
Without stain of her body,
Godės Son that sitteth on high,
    Jesu Salvator seculi.

4. As the sun shineth thorough the glass,
So Jesus in her body was;
To serve Him He gave us grace.
    O lux beata trinitas!

5. Now is born our Lord Jesus,
That made merry all (of) us;
Be all merry in this house,
    Exultet celum laudibus!

Translations from Rickert:

J. A. Fuller Maitland, English Carols of the Fifteenth Century. London: The Leadenhall Press, E.C., ca. 1891, VI.

Carol in Original Form From a 15th Century Manuscript

Carol in Modern Form

Editor's Note: Fuller Maitland provides a different burden:

Nowel sing we now all and some
For Rex pacificus is come.

He notes that Rex pacificus is translated "The King of Peace." Other translations from Fuller Maitland:

Editor's Note:

The popularity of this carol can be seen by its appearance in an unusually large number of 15th century manuscripts including

Trinity College Library, O. 3. 58. (James, No. 1230)

Balliol 354, Richard Hill's Common-place Book, Balliol College, Oxford

Eng. Poet. e. 1., Bodleian Library, Oxford

MS. Ee. 1. 12., f. 1.r., Cambridge University Library

Selden B. 26, Bodleian Library, Oxford

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