The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

In Those Twelve Days
Alternate Title: "The Twelve"

Version 1

Compare In These Twelve Days (Gilbert)

Words: English Folk, published 1625

Music: English Folk, 16-18th Century

Source: William Sandys, Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern (London: Richard Beckley, 1833)
Also found in William Sandys, Christmas-tide, Its History, Festivities and Carols, With Their Music (London: John Russell Smith, 1852), pp. 238-40.

Chorus
In those twelve days, and in those twelve days, let us be glad,
For God of his power hath all things made.

1. What is that which is but one?
What is that which is but one?
We have but one God alone
In Heaven above sits on his throne.

2. What are they which are but two?
What are they which are but two?
Two Testaments, as we are told,
The one is New and the other Old. Chorus

3. What are they that are but three?
What are they that are but three?
Three persons in the Trinity,
The Father, Son, and Ghost Holy. Chorus

4. What are they that are but four?
What are they that are but four?
Four Gospels written true,
John, Luke, Mark, and Matthew. Chorus

5. What are they that are but five?
What are they that are but five?
Five senses we have to tell,
God grant us grace to use them well. Chorus

6. What are they that are but six?
What are they that are but six?
Six ages this world shall last,
Five of them are gone and past. Chorus

7. What are they that are but seven?
What are they that are but seven?
Seven days in the week have we,
Six to work and the seventh holy. Chorus

8. What are they that are but eight?
What are they that are but eight?
Eight beatitudes are given,
Use them well and go to Heaven. Chorus

9. What are they that are but nine?
What are they that are but nine?
Nine degrees of Angels high
Which praise God continually. Chorus

10. What are they that are but ten?
What are they that are but ten?
Ten Commandments God hath given,
Keep them right and go to Heaven.1 Chorus

11. What are they that are but eleven?
What are they that are but eleven?
Eleven thousand virgins did partake
And suffered death for Jesus' sake.2 Chorus

12. What are they that are but twelve?
What are they that are but twelve?
Twelve Apostles Christ did chuse
To preach the Gospel to the Jews.3 Chorus

Notes: The following verses are from Dante Gabriel Rossetti in a manuscript dated to approximately 1850, a version of which is in the Rossetti Archive; the original manuscript is in the Fitzwilliam Museum (Link opens in a new window at an exterior site).

1. Or:
What are they which are but ten?
What are they which are but ten?
Ten statutes God to Moses gave,
Which kept or broke do spoil or save. Return

2. Or:
What are they which are but eleven?
What are they which are but eleven?
Eleven with Christ in Heaven do dwell;
The twelfth for ever burns in Hell. Return

3. Or:
What are they which are but twelve?
What are they which are but twelve?
Twelve are attending on God's Son:
Twelve make our creed. The dial's done. Return

Sheet Music from Sandys, 1833

Sheet Music from Sandys, 1852

Sheet Music from Richard R. Terry, Gilbert and Sandys' Christmas Carols (London: Burns, Oates & Washbourne, Ltd., 1931)
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF

Sheet Music from Richard Runciman Terry, Two Hundred Folk Carols (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Limited, 1933), pp. 36-37.

020a-In_Those_Twelve_Days.jpg (158249 bytes) 020b-In_Those_Twelve_Days.jpg (134608 bytes)

Sheet Music from Richard R. Terry, Old Christmas Carols. Part One. (London: Burns, Oates & Washbourne Ltd., n.d., ca. 1923), Carol #20, pp. 24-25.

Words and melody from Sandys' Collection of Christmas Carols, 1833.

Rev. Terry also notes:

The variations in scansion between the different verses necessitate much alteration of the words. For the original version see Sandys.

Differences from the above verses:

At the bottom, Rev. Terry added:

Repeat “In those twelve days” to Fine.

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In Those Twelve Days - Terry

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Note:

This is one of many "counting" songs among the hymns and carols of Christmas. See the notes to the Twelve Days of Christmas

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