The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Joy And Gladness Be To King

For Christmas

Words: Rev. John Mason Neale, ca. 1851
See: Additional Christmas Carols & Hymns of John Mason Neale

Music: Melody from Lætabundus, from Wolf, Ueber die Lais, a melody from the MS. A.N. 47. E. 7, in the Imperial Library at Vienna, ca. 1440. The tone is the fifth, mixed with the sixth.

Source: The Ecclesiologist, Volume XII, No. LXXXVII, December, 1851. (London: Joseph Masters, 1851), p. 399. With Sheet Music.

Text also found in Mary Sackville Lawson, et al, eds., Collected Hymns, Sequences and Carols of John Mason Neale (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1914), pp. 305-306.

1. Joy and gladness
Be to king and peasant,

2. Monarch's monarch
In the world to-day is present,

3. For a King to-day hath birth,
And a warrior comes on earth,
In our quarrel:

4. Wreathe the holly for the King,
To the warrior haste and bring
Bay and laurel.

5. By the crown the king is known.
By the sceptre and the throne
Where is either?

6. When their foes they would assail.
Warriors come with sword and mail.
Here is neither.

7. He that in th' anger lies
Is the King that made the skies,
Ever glorious.

8. He Whose swaddling bands ye see
Is the Warrior that shall be

9. Ox and ass that Child adored.
Knowing Him to be the Lord,
In the manger.

10. And the star, with heavenly ray,
Led the wise men on their way.
To the Stranger.

11. Wherefore let the bells ring out,
Wreathe the holly all about,
Wake the mom with song and shout;
Earth rejoices.

12. For the Poor King's blessed sake,
His poor servants blessed make;
To the Infant King awake,
Infant voices!

Sheet Music from The Ecclesiologist, p. 399

Joy and Gladness-Ecclesiologist-1851-p399.jpg (100284 bytes)


This carol was placed at the very end of an article by Rev. John Mason Neale concerning Part I (1852) of the Hymnal Noted. The text began on p. 395.


"And how do you like the Hymnal Noted?" "Oh, very much — just the thing we wanted — the old words and the old tunes — very useful work indeed." "Well; and do you find what we say to be true, that the old melodies are popular? — do your choir like them?" "My choir! why—hum—why, the fact is, just at present, you see, that we sing the metrical Psalms." "Sing the metrical Psalms! why, you said that you liked the Hymnal!" "And so I do; but it is a strange style of music at first — I think my people would be frightened — I hope, by degrees, &c., &c. — when the present storm is over, &c., &c., &c. — we must go gently to work, &c., &c., &c., &c."

Such is the style of reply which we have received, times innumerable, to the question with which we commenced. If we come from conversations to letters, the following is of a description of which our secretaries have received a great many :—

"Dear Sir, — I am about to publish a selection of hymns for the use of my congregation, in which it is my wish to unite Apostolical truth with Evangelical fervour. Some of those published in the 'Hymnal Noted' appear to me admirably calculated for my purpose ; and if you will allow me to avail myself of them, I shall feel much indebted to you. I remain, &c., -------------, Rector of ------------."

From such conversations and such letters, one or two things become very evident. It is clear that the English Church is very anxious to possess a Hymnal, — that even the old school of Priests are becoming ashamed of Tate and Brady, — and that it is seen how unfit anthems are for parish churches and illiterate congregations. It is clear, secondly, that this move is also in the right direction ; people theoretically wish for the old hymns, though they are rather afraid of them. It is clear, thirdly, that when the old hymns and the old melodies are laid before them, the greater part of Churchmen start back in alarm, — the thing looks so odd — it is so different from everything they have been accustomed to, and so forth.

On the other hand, we have received testimonies to the Hymnal Noted, which of themselves would encourage us to persevere, were we not sufficiently encouraged by the knowledge that our principle is the right one, and the only right one. Not the least curious feature in the case is the popularity they have obtained among Dissenters. We say again, that no private opinion, no combination of opinions, nothing less than the formal repudiation of our principle by a National Synod, will induce us to give it up, or to desist from acting upon it. That principle, we need scarcely repeat, is, that to the ancient hymns of the English Church alone has the English Churchman any right. The reformers wished to translate them, but confessed themselves unequal to the task. Cranmer, in particular, (to whom we refer as an argumentum ad hominem,) expressed his wish that others might arise to effect that which, in this respect, he left unperformed. And it would seem natural that the translation should be plain and simple, and as nearly in the language of the Prayer-Book as possible. Now at this point the Ecclesiological Society steps forward, and says— If you agree to these principles, (as many profess to do,) here is a Hymnal framed upon them. We have done our best. We do not pretend that this best is perfect, but it is the only hymnbook based on a true and intelligible principle ; and, as such, we say that English Churchmen ought to try it before they reject it. And this is more particularly true of those who turn away from our Hymnal, as a whole, though ready enough to adopt it in parts ; and who, without any regard to the ancient melodies, would substitute other translations where they think ours less happy. Hence the efforts making in various quarters to make other hymnals, by men who would work with us, and to greater profit for the Church, had they taken our view of this duty of working upon the old foundations. We call upon all such persons all to consider well whether a united effort for the great end we alike have in view, and a cordial reception of the principle herein so warmly advocated, is not likely, in the end, to lead to more happy results, than a multiplication of hymnals, each made according to private fancies, and mutually interfering with the general adoption of any common use?

We might take a parallel case as regards ourselves. Noble work as is Mr. Helmore's Psalter Noted, no one will call it perfect; least of all, we are sure, would its arranger. Again, there are many of its details on which it is quite allowable to entertain various opinions. Some may wish that all the Psalms of one morning or evening had been set to the same tone; others that the tone had been oftener altered. Some may wish for a greater, others for a less, tendency to syllabism; some may think the compiler right, others wrong, in his arrangement of the sixth tone. But what if we, in the hopes of producing a more perfect book, had come forward with another Psalter? We say nothing of the unfairness to those interested in the former work; but should we not have injured, perhaps irreparably, the cause of Gregorianism in our Church?

One objection which some have urged, we feel very strongly to be an entire prejudgment of the Hymnal Noted, without a trial; it is the alleged obscurity of some of the translations. Now, were it possible to place ourselves in the position of those who for the first time looked into the English Book of Common Prayer, or the English Bible itself, we believe that the very same objection would be started; it is a difficulty as inherent in the originals as in the translations.

Take, for example, the following verse :—

"Yea, angels tremble when they see
How changed is our humanity :
That flesh hath purged what flesh had stained,
And God, the Flesh of God, hath reigned."

It is, no doubt, at first obscure ; but is it more so than the original ?

"Tremunt videntes Angeli
Versam vicem mortalium :
Culpat caro, purgat caro,
Regnat Deus, Dei Caro."

And is not the obscurity, in both cases, owing to the fulness of meaning ? So, in like manner, how obscure is the collect for the week in which we write, — "Stir up, we beseech Thee, &c. !" But are we therefore to surrender it for a simple prayer, — for a prayer with nothing in it, — and thus rid ourselves of that wonderful abstract of the Catholic doctrine of grace, as distinguished both from Molinism and Ultra-Jansenism, which this collect contains? It is the extreme compression of meaning which gives the old hymns their value as well as their obscurity. The English language cannot altogether rival this excellence; let our readers try, for example, such lines as—

"Offert malta, spondet plura,
Perituros peritura:"


"Per quam plebs Alexandrina
Foeminae non foeminina
        Stupuit ingenia."

But yet much of this compactness may, in a good translation, be given. The hymns, in some cases, will require explanation; but will not a parish Priest find this, in catechising, or sermons, an advantage?

Some misapprehension of the nature and design of our work has led the editor of a weekly newspaper to entrust the review of the Hymnal Noted to an unfriendly critic. The result has been highly satisfactory, in the removal of much of that misapprehension by explanations contained in three letters from three members of our committee. As the subject is of great importance, and the letters themselves highly interesting and instructive, we have thought it desirable to give them entire in our present number. We have only to add our gratification at the candour of the Editor's note, at the close of the number containing the last two letters, in which he admits them to be able and temperate, and expresses his belief that " the object which all parties have in view will be eventually promoted by a discussion so conducted." As to his objections to the notation, we must refer him, and all who feel similar difficulties, to the October number of our Ecclesiologist, 1850.

Having thus answered, as briefly as we were able, the chief objections that have been brought against the principle of the Hymnal Noted, we will add a few words on one or two other subjects connected with it. We may perhaps mention that a short commentary on the words, for the use of the poor in those parishes where they may be adopted, is in course of preparation by one of our members. Casual readers can scarcely be aware what a depth of meaning there is in many of these Hymns, and how much it requires to be brought out. For example, such a Hymn as Ad Camam Agni providi, can scarcely be understood until the original circumstances of its composition, the Easter Eve Baptism of Catechumens, is explained. The Commentary will be taken from ancient sources : such as Clichtovaeus, Nebrissensis, and Badius Ascensius.

It is our wish to proceed with the second part of the Hymnal, (by which that work will be completed,) as speedily as is consistent with due carefulness. We are glad to say that we have received more assistance in this than in the former portion of our task. The Ferial Hymns are almost necessary to Daily Service ; and those for Festivals will at all events, if not essential, be found very convenient.

That done, we may perhaps turn our attention to other points in which our present system is miserably defective : such as introits, various kinds of responses, and sequences. The latter would perhaps be the most popular of all Ecclesiastical melodies, if once fairly naturalized, or rather re-naturalized among us. We were very much struck, not long ago, by the observation made by a party of singers, who had been trying from the Hymnal Noted the Sanctorum mentis, (in which the character of the melody very much resembles that of a sequence) that it was " so like Dibdin."

We will conclude, then, with a specimen of a sequence melody, which, in the opinion of the great German Hymnologist, SCHMID, is one of the loveliest of all. It was originally the melody of S. Bernard's celebrated sequence Lætabundus, but afterwards many other sequences, and especially Christmas Carols, (which abounded in mediaeval times.) were set to it. We have appropriated it here to an imitation of a Carol of the fifteenth century. The melody was first published by Wolf, in his work Ueber die Lais, in two versions. Of the two, we have chosen that from the MS. A.N. 47. E. 7, in the Imperial Library at Vienna, a MS. of about 1440. It was afterwards, (as so many other sweet church melodies,) employed for drinking songs. One of these — the first (it is said) in which beer is mentioned, is given by Daniel : one verse runs—

"Bevez bel e bevez bien,
Vos le vostre et io le mien,
    Pari forma,
De co sort bien pourveu,
Qui que auques le tient al fu,
    Fit corrupta."

All this show? the intensely popular nature of such compositions.

We now conclude with (what will not be out of place at the present season) the carol. The tone is the fifth, mixed with the sixth :—

    "Joy And Gladness Be To King"

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