The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Jesu, Almighty King Of Bliss

For Christmas

Words: English Traditional from Advocates' Library Ms. 19. 3. I, National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh

Music: Not Stated

Source: E. K. Chambers and F. Sidgwick, eds., Early English Lyrics (London: A. H. Bullen, 1907), #LXXII, p. 134-135.

Jesu, almighty king of bliss,
Assumpsit carnem virginis.

As holy kirke makes mind,
    Intravit ventris thalamum.
Fro heven to erthe to save monkind 5
    Pater misit filium.

Of Mary milde Criste wolde be borne
    Sine virili semine,
To save monkind that was forlorne
    Prime parentis crimine. 10

To Mary come a messenger,
    Ferens salutem homini ;
Sche aunswerd him with milde chere,
    ' Ecce ancilla domini. '

' Mekely on thee tho holy goste, 15
    Palacium intrans uteri.
Of alle thing mekenes is moste
    In conspectu altissimi. '

When he was borne that made all thing,
    Pastor creator omnium, 20
Angelles they began to sing
    ' Veni redemptor gencium. '

Three kinges come on goid twelfth day,
    Stella micante previa ;
To seche that childe they toke tho wey, 25
    Portantes sibi munera.

A sterne forth ladde theis kinges all,
    lnquirentes dominum ;
Lying in an asse stall
    lnvenerunt puerum. 30

For he was king of kinges hight,
    Rex primus aurum optulit ;
And allso lord and king full right,
    Secundus rex thus pertulit.

For he was Godde, mon and king, 35
    Mirra mortem retulit.
He hus all to hevene bring,
    Qui mortem cruce voluit.

Note to #LXXII, p. 354

Advoc. Lib. 19. 3. I. Printed Englische Studien (by K. Breul), xiv. 402.

Another version in Harley 275, f. 146b printed in Notes and Queries, Ser. 2, ix. 439, begins :—

‘ Joy we alle now yn this feste
For verbum caro factum est  ’

and then proceeds as in our lyric.

Some of the Latin lines are from hymns. Thus Pastor creator omnium is from the Nativity hymn, A Solis Ortus Cardine of Sedulius (Daniel, i. 143 [another version occurs on p. 21. Ed.]); Veni, Redemptor Gentium is the beginning of the Advent hymn of St. Ambrose (Daniel, i. 12), in which also is the line Non ex virili semine ; but the precise phrase Sine virili semine is in both the Nativity hymns Resonet in laudibus (Daniel, i. 327) and Puer Natus in Bethlehem (Daniel, i, 334).

31. hight; MS. ‘heghe'.

33. king full right ; ‘ist von einer spateren hand zugesetst'.—Breul.

The last two verses in the Harl. MS. are as follows :—

‘For he was kyng of kynges ay;
     Primus rex aurum optulit;
For he was god and lord verray;
     Secundus rex thus pertulit.

For he was man ; the thyrde kynge
     Incensum pulcrum tradidst;
He us alle to his blys brynge,
     Qui mcri cruce voluit'.

Extended Citations:

Englische Studien (by K. Breul), xiv. 402.
Karl Breul, "Zwei Mittelenglische Christmas Carols," in Eugen Kolbing, ed., Englische Studien-Organ fur englische philogie. Vol. 14. (Leipzig: O. R. Reisland, 1890), "Jesu Almyghty Kyng Of Blys," pp. 402-403. It is also printed in Richard Leighton Greene, ed., The Early English Carols (Oxford at the Clarendon Press, 1935), #23a, "Jhesus, almyghty Kyng of Blys," pp. 16-17, citing the MS Advocates 19.3.I., f. 59 r., National Library of Scotland.

Notes and Queries, Ser. 2, ix. 439
John Williams, "Medieval Rhymes" (June 9, 1860) in Notes and Queries, Second Series, Vol. 9, Number 232, January-June, 1860. (London: Bell & Daldy, 1860), "Joyne all now in thys feste," pp. 439-440.

Several of the Latin hymns above are found in Hermann Adalbert Daniel, ed., Thesaurus hymnologicus. Volume 1 of 5 Volumes. (J.T. Loeschke, 1855).

Editor's Note:

The above citation to the burden of this carol is incorrect. The text from Notes and Queries is:

Joyne all now in thys feste
ffor Verbum caro factum est.

I understand that the text in the manuscript may differ from either version of this burden.

A slightly-altered burden is quoted in:

Words of a Christmas Carol, beginning “Joy we all now yn this feste, for verbum caro factum est." Inserted at the end of a copy of the "Speculum humanae salvationis."

Other examples on this site include:

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