The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Joseph An Aged Man Truly

A [mos]t Excellent Ballad of Joseph the Carpenter, and the sacred Virgin Mary, who was the mother of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ the ever blessed Redeemer Man-kind.

For Christmas

Words: English Traditional

Music: English Traditional

Printed for F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright, J. Clarke, W. Thackeray, and T. Passenger, ca. 1678-1680.

Version 1
Compare: Ioseph an aged man truly

Source: The Samuel Pepys Collection, Magdalen College
Joseph Was An Aged Man Truly, Pepys 2.27
 The Pepys Collection, Located at English Broadside Ballad Archive
University of California, Santa Barbara

Joseph an aged man truly,
Did marry a Virgin fair and free,
A purer Virgin did no man see,
    then he chose for his dear his dear.

This Virgin was pure, there was no nay,
The Angel Gabriel to her did say.
Thou shalt conceive a boy this day,
    the which shall be our dear our dear.

No sooner the Angel his message had said,
But all in her she was afraid,
How may this be? and I a pure maid,
    Say unto me my dear my dear,

The holy Ghost (Mary) shall come on thee,
The power of Heaven shall shadow thee,
And thou shalt bear a Son truly
    the which shall be our dear our dear,

Then Joseph being a perfect man,
Perceiving that Mary with Child was gone
Said tell me Mary now and anon,
    who hath done this my dear my dear

Then answered Mary meek and mild
I know no Father to my Child,
But God alone, and I undefil'd,
    he hath done this my dear my dear.

Yet (thinking she had been unjust,
Yielding her body to lawless lust,
Out of his house he thought to thrust,
    his only love and Lady dear.

And so put her from him quite,
Who was his joy and hearts delight,
That blessed Virgin fair and bright,
    whom [he] did love so dear so dear.

And while in heart he thought the same
To him the Angel Gabriel came,
Who said, fear not to take to thee,
    Thy true and faithful wife Mary,

Most true and constant sure is she,
turn not off thy dear thy dear.
When Joseph rose from his sleep so sound,
    His love [f]o[r] Mary did more abound,

He would not for a thousand pound,
forsake his Love and Lady dear.
They lived both in joy and bliss,
    But then a straight Commandment is,

Through Judea land no man should miss,
to go with his Love and Lady dear.
Unto the Temple where they were born,
    And to the Emperor to be sworn,

To pay a tribute duely known,
both for himself and Lady dear,
Then Joseph and his Mary free
    Who lookt each hour delivered to be,

In Bethelem came that sweet City,
with his true Love and Lady dear.
But when to Bethelem they were come,
    The Inns were filled all and some,

When Joseph intreating every groom,
could get no bed for his dear his dear
Then was he constrained presently,
    Within the Stable all night to lye,

Wherein they did Oxen and Asses tye,
with his true love and Lady dear.
The Virgin fair thought it no scorn,
    To lye in such a place forlorn,

Which night she had a young-Son born,
even Jesus Christ our dear our dear
Thou King of Peace, in Bethelem born
    That wore for our sake a crown of thorn,

[?]ing and morn[,]

Editor's Note:

Printed on the same page was the ballad Even in the Twinkling of an Eye (Giving An Account at the Second Coming). It was not uncommon to have such ballads paired with Christmas ballads, a reminder that our ancestors paid greater attention to the Second Advent (Second Coming of Christ), as they prepared in the Advent season for the Celebration of the Birth of Christ.

Source: The Samuel Pepys Collection, Magdalen College
English Broadside Ballad Archive,
EBBA ID: 20650, Pepys 2.27

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