The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

King Pharaoh & King Pharim

For Christmas
The Flight Into Egypt

Words and Music: English Traditional
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF

Source: Lucy E. Broadwood, ed., English Traditional Songs and Carols (London: Boosey & Co., 1908.), pp. 74-75; Notes on p. 122.

 

Original version

1. King Pharim sat a-musing,
    A musing all alone;
There came a blessed Saviour,
    And all to him unknown.

2. “Say, where did you come from, good man,
    Oh, where did you then pass?”
It is out of the land Egypt,
    Between an ox and an ass?

3. “Oh, if you come out of Egypt, man,
    One thing I fain I known,
Whether a blessed Virgin Mary
    Sprung from an Holy Ghost?

4. For if this is true, is true, good man,
    That you’ve been telling to me,
That the roasted cock do crow three times
    In the place where they did stand?’

5. Oh, it’s straight away the cock did fetch,
    And feathered to your own hand,
Three times a roasted cock did crow,
    On the place where they did stand.

6. Joseph, Jesus and Mary
    Were travelling for the west,
When Mary grew a-tired
    She might sit down and rest.

7. They travelled further and further,
    The weather being so warm,
Till they came unto some husbandman
    A-sowing of his corn.

8. “Come husbandman!” cried Jesus,
    “From over speed and pride,
And carry home your ripened corn
    That you’ve been sowing this day.

9. For to keep your wife and family
    From sorrow, grief and pain,
And keep Christ in your remembrance
    Till the time comes round again.”

Restored version

1. King Pharaoh sat a-musing,
    A-musing all alone;
There came the blessed Saviour,
    And all to him unknown.

2. “Say, where did you come from, good man?
    Oh, where did you then pass?”
It is out of the land of Egypt,
    Between an ox and ass.”

3. Oh, if you come out of Egypt, man,
    One thing I ween thou knowst:
Is Jesus sprung of Mary
    And of the Holy Ghost?

4. For if this is true, is true, good man,
    That you have told to me,
Make this roasted cock to crow three times
    In the dish that here we see!”

5. Oh, it’s straight away the cock did rise,
    All feathered to the hand,
Three times the roasted cock did crow,
    On the place where they did stand.

6. Joseph, Jesus and Mary
    Were travelling for the west,
When Mary grew a-tired
    She might sit down and rest.

7. They travelled further and further,
    The weather being so warm,
Till they came unto a husbandman
    A-sowing of his corn.

8. “Come husbandman!” cried Jesus,
    Throw all your seed away [aside],
And carry home as ripened corn
    That you have sowed this day [tide];

9. For to keep your wife and family
    From sorrow, grief and pain,
And keep Christ in remembrance
    Till the time comes round again.
    Till seed-time comes again.

Sheet Music from Lucy E. Broadwood, ed., English Traditional Songs and Carols. (London: Boosey & Co., 1908), pp. 73-74, 122. Contains both "King Pharim" and "King Pharoah"

Notes from Broadwood from English Traditional Songs and Carols:

Sung by Gypsies of the name of Goby. 1893.

Child’s English and Scottish Ballads should without fail be consulted for notes on the carols “St. Stephen and Herod” and the “Carnal and the Crane.” The first-named is preserved in the British Museum, in a MS. judged to be of the time of Henry VI. It narrates that St. Stephen, dish-bearer to King Herod, sees the Star of Bethlehem, and tells the king that Christ is born. Herod scoffingly says that this is as likely as that the capon in the dish should crow. The capon thereupon rises, and crows “Christus natus est!” This legend is extremely ancient, and widely spread over Europe. Its source seems to be an interpolation in two late Greek MSS. of the so-called Gospel of Nicodemus. “The Carnal and the Crane” (see Sandys’ Christmas Carols and Husk’s Songs of the Nativity), appeared on broadsides of the middle of the eighteenth century. The well-informed crane instructs his catechumen, the carnal (i.e., crow), in matters pertaining to the early days of Jesus; and tells how the wise men tried to convince Herod of the birth of Christ by the miracle of the roasted cock, which rose freshly feathered, and crowed in the dish.

It also relates the legend of the Instantaneous Harvest, which occurs in Apocryphal Gospels (see B. Harris Cowper’s Apocryphal Gospels). The carol consists of thirty stanzas, some of which have lines in common with the Surrey carol here given. It, likewise, is exceedingly corrupted and incoherent, and must have been transmitted orally from some very remote source. The singers of the Surrey version are very well known Gypsy tramps in the neighbourhood of Horsham and Dorking. “King Pharim is of course a corruption of “King Pharaoh,” and that name is properly given in a very interesting traditional version of “The Carnal and the Crane” lately noted in Herefordshire. It is quite natural that gypsies should substitute “Pharaoh” for “Herod,” for, on the first appearance of gypsies in Europe (in the fifteenth century), the Church spread the legend that they came from Egypt with a curse upon them because they had refused to receive the Virgin and Child. The gypsies in time came to believe themselves Egyptians, and, according to Simson (1865), recognise Pharaoh as their former king. There is, however, an interesting allusion to Pharaoh in the Arabic Gospel of the Infancy, Chap. xxv.: “Thence they (Joseph, Mary and Jesus), went down to Memphis, and having seen Pharaoh they staid three years in Egypt; and the Lord Jesus wrought very many miracles in Egypt.” The editor of the Gospel adds, “Memphis may have been visited, but who was Pharaoh? Egypt was then under Roman rule.” The sixth verse of the “King Pharim” carol is a paraphrase of a passage in the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew, Chap. xx. [see below]

Sheet Music from "Songs from the Lucy Broadwood Collection," Journal of the Folk-Song Society, Vol. I, Carol #23, "King Pharim," pp. 183-184. This version is included in Broadwood's English Traditional Songs and Carols.

Songs_From_LEBroadwood-183.gif (30505 bytes) Songs_From_LEBroadwood-184.gif (37062 bytes)

Notes on p. 184 from Carol #23, " 'King Pharim' Christmas Carol," citing “three gipsy men called Goby, Surrey, 1893."

Child's “English and Scottish Ballads” should without fail be consulted for notes on the carols “St. Stephen and Herod” and “The Carnal and the Crane.” The first-named is preserved in the British Museum in a MS. Judged to be of the time of Henry VII. [the Sloane MS. 2593]. It narrates that St. Stephen, dish-bearer to King Herod, sees the Star of Bethlehem, and tells the King that Christ is born. Herod scoffingly says that this is as likely as that the capon in the disk should crow. The capon thereupon rises, and crows “Christus natus est.” This legend is extremely ancient and widely spread over Europe. Its source seems to be an interpolation in two late Greek MSS. Of the so-called “Gospel of Nicodemus.”

The Carnal and the Crane” (see Sandys, “Christmas Carols” and Husk's “Songs of the Nativity”) appeared on broadsides of the middle of the eighteenth century. The well-informed Crane instructs his catechumen, the Carnal (or Crow) in matters pertaining to the early days of Jesus, and tells how the Wise Men tried to convince Herod of the birth of Christ by the miracle of the roasted cock which rose freshly feathered and crowed in the dish. It also relates the legend of the Instantaneous Harvest, which occurs in the Apocryphal Gospels (see B. Harris Cowper's “Apocryphal Gospels”). The carol consists of 30 stanzas, some of which have lines in common with the Surrey version here given. It likewise is exceedingly corrupted and incoherent, and must have been transmitted orally from some very remote source. The Surrey singers are very well-known gipsy tramps in the neighbourhood of Horsham and Darking. – L. E. B. [Lucy E. Broadwood]

Editor's Note:

Regarding the Child Ballads.

See generally Ed de Moel, ed., The Child Ballads.

See notes by Leslie Nelson-Burns at King Pharaoh.

See:

Notes concerning the miracle of the Roasted Cock, and the notes from Prior, Ancient Danish Ballads, concerning St. Stephen and Herod, are in the notes to Saint Stephen Was A Clerk. "King Pharim" is also found under the title The Miracle of the Cock.

The Miracle of the Instantaneous Harvest (beginning in Verse 6, "Joseph, Jesus and Mary | Were travelling for the west") is said to be a paraphrase from The Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew, Chapter 20:

And it came to pass on the third day of their journey, while they were walking, that the blessed Mary was fatigued by the excessive heat of the sun in the desert; and seeing a palm tree, she said to Joseph: Let me rest a little under the shade of this tree. Joseph therefore made haste, and led her to the palm, and made her come down from her beast. And as the blessed Mary was sitting there, she looked up to the foliage of the palm, and saw it full of fruit, and said to Joseph: I wish it were possible to get some of the fruit of this palm. And Joseph said to her: I wonder that thou sayest this, when thou seest how high the palm tree is; and that thou thinkest of eating of its fruit. I am thinking more of the want of water, because the skins are now empty, and we have none wherewith to refresh ourselves and our cattle. Then the child Jesus, with a joyful countenance, reposing in the bosom of His mother, said to the palm: O tree, bend thy branches, and refresh my mother with thy fruit. And immediately at these words the palm bent its top down to the very feet of the blessed Mary; and they gathered from it fruit, with which they were all refreshed. And after they had gathered all its fruit, it remained bent down, waiting the order to rise from Him who bad commanded it to stoop. Then Jesus said to it: Raise thyself, O palm tree, and be strong, and be the companion of my trees, which are in the paradise of my Father; and open from thy roots a vein of water which has been hid in the earth, and let the waters flow, so that we may be satisfied from thee. And it rose up immediately, and at its root there began to come forth a spring of water exceedingly clear and cool and sparkling. And when they saw the spring of water, they rejoiced with great joy, and were satisfied, themselves and all their cattle and their beasts. Wherefore they gave thanks to God.

Source: Benjamin Harris Cowper, Trans., "The Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew, or Of The Infancy of Mary and of Jesus," in The Apocryphal Gospels and Other Documents Relating to the History of Christ. 2nd Edition (London: Williams and Norgate, 1867), Part II, Chapter XX, p. 59.

And see The Miraculous Harvest and The Cherry-Tree Carol - Husk

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