In Middle Winter They Set Out
Words and Music: Belenen sortu zaigu, Old Basque Carol
Words Translated by the Rev. J. O'Connor
Source: Richard Runciman Terry, Two Hundred Folk Carols (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Limited, 1933), Carol #96, pp. 10-11.
In middle winter they set out from home
To be enroll'd at Bethlehem.
Obedient to the dread command of Rome;
Each bough to rally to its stem
Saint Joseph was of David's family;
'Twas all he had of high degree.
Now Mary his espouséd wife was nigh
The time of her unburdening:
O'ershadow'd by the power of the Most High
To Bethlehem she bore a King.
Yet at the close of her most heavy day
No room she found her head to lay.
Quirinus' first enrolling was in peace,
And all the town was at carouse:
So no one could a little chamber lease
A childing woman for to house.
Saint Joseph weeping, sought the wild
And there she laid her only child.
Did ever joy and sorrow nearer blend?
'Twas in this grief our joy began,
Triumphant joy whose day shall never end
When God became the Son of Man
And every generation calls her blest
From whose ill-ease came forth our rest.
Sheet Music from Richard Runciman Terry, Two Hundred Folk Carols (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Limited, 1933), Carol #96, pp. 10-11.
Note by Rev. Terry: 'Tenors and Basses hum or sing 'Ah' for first four lines of each verse.'
Editor's Note: Quirinus was the Roman governor who ordered the census that caused Joseph and Mary to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem.
Luke 2:1-2: “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)”. (KJV)
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