The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

The Little Room

Words and Music: English Traditional

 

Source: Cecil J. Sharp, English Folk-Carols (London: Novello & Co., Ltd., 1911), pp. 41-5.

THE FIRST PART

1. As on my bed with grief oppressed
I laid me down to take my rest,
Into a dream most strange I fell,
Which to the world in brief Iíll tell.

2. Methought an angel all in white
Did come to me, when late at night,
And said : Prepare to go with me
Iíll show strange wonders unto thee.

3. The angel forced me to goó
Indeed, whether I would or noó
And, in a very little space,
He brought me to a glorious place.

4. Upon a throne there sat a King
Many melodiously did sing
All clothed in fine white array,
Which shined brighter than the day.

5. It was so beautiful and fair
I fain would have continued there
With that the angel said to me
Poor soul this is no place for thee.

6. A little further you must go
For something else I will [thee] show.
Then from this place I did depart,
Full sore it grieved me to the heart.

7. Into a little room we went
Where was a noisome stinking scent
For want of sweeping many years
It like a dung-hill did appear.

8. One came to clear the dirt away
But it was grown to such decay
He could by no means clean the same
It did the Kingís wrath much inflame.

9. He said : It shall no longer stand
I will destroy it out of hand
There is no other hope I seeó
This little room shall burned be.

10. Another place he brought me to,
Most sad and dreadful to the view;
It grieved my heart to see the same
All full of sulphur, smoke and flame.

11. One looked at me both fierce and grim,
Which made me tremble every limb
My soul was filled with dread and fear,
I said: How long must I be here?

12. To me the angel then replied
Here, ever here, you must abide;
Except this room can cleansed be
There will be no relief for thee.

13. The Prince said : Father ! be free
To give that little room to me
Iíll put it in another frame,
My own heartís blood to cleanse the same.

14. O then it was perfumed and done,
The King was willing that His Son
The greatest torture then could bear
To put the room in good repair.

15. His blood was thrown upon the floor,
And water then was sprinkled oíer
The room was suddenly made clean
And not one spot was to be seen.

16. The angel came and said to me
I now am come to set thee free.
O then my joys were more and more
That I had seen my troubles oíer.

17. Again he brought me to the room,
Where was a smell of rich perfume
I was amazed to see the same,
For it was in another frame.

18. Then to the angel I did say
Interpret this to me, I pray,
Because it seemeth something strange
To see so wonderful a change.

19. The angel said : This is the world
It would have been to ashes hurled,
Had not Christ shed His blood so free
To cleanse the world and ransom thee.

20. Although He died He lives again,
And with His Father now doth reign;
At His right hand He sits on high
And lives to all eternity.

21. Heíll come again to judge the world
The wicked ones they shall be hurled
Into the pit of discontent,
Where wicked fiends they do torment.

22. The righteous need not fear to die
For they shall be with Christ on high
Although afflicted here on earth,
They will be happy after death.

23. Then by the hand he did me take,
And said : Poor drowsy soul, awake!
Being awakened from my sleep,
My heart was full ; then I did weep.

24. To think my Christ so patiently
Did undergo such misery
To free lost sinners from the grave
He shed His blood the world to save.

25. I hope this dream is for my good.
Lord Jesus with Thy precious blood
Wash all my heinous sins away
And make me fit for the last day.

THE SECOND PART

1. Another mystery behold
Iíll in the second part unfold
These worthy poems I have penned
That all good Christians may attend.

2. This mystery I do compare
Unto a gallant lady fair,
And a black king, that reigns below,
Who sought this ladyís overthrow.

3. The black king, having such a spite
Against this gallant lady bright,
Sent forth an order, or decree,
That she to death shall murdered be.

4. According to the black kingís laws,
Condemned to die this lady was.
When she her sentence came to know
Her tears like fountain streams did flow.

5. Now when the ladyís death was near,
A young Prince came and said : Donít fear
For thou shalt not destroyed be
Iíll die myself to set thee free.

6. Then straight spake [or "spoke"] up this same young Prince:
Iím come to stand in her defence
Upon her be not too severe
Iíll die myself to set her clear.

7. Then was it the young Princeís doom
To suffer in this ladyís room.
For by these lines I briefly show
That you the mystery may know.

8. First with the lady Iíll begin ;ó
It is the soul condemned for sin,
Had not the Prince resigned his breath
To save it from eternal death.

9. The black king Satan is, we know,
Who sought the soul to overthrow
And the young Prince is Christ indeed,
Who on the cross for sin did bleed.

Sheet Music From Sharp
MIDI / NWC / PDF

Notes from Sharp:

Sung by Mr. Samson Bates of Lilleshall, and Mr. Felton of Hadley, Salop.

This curious carol is very popular in this part of Shropshire where, despite its great length, it is frequently sung at Christmas time by small parties of two or more men. Miss K. Sorby, who very kindly noted the tune for me, tells me that Mr. Felton sang the first line of each stanza by himself, the remaining three lines being chanted in unison by both singers. Mr. Bates afterwards sang the carol, or part of it, to me by himself and this enabled me to note many interesting variants of the music phrases, which were not, of course, sung when the two men performed together. I have not, however, embodied any of these variants in the air printed in this book. The singers had with them a chap-book (from which the words in the text have been copied), called A Good Christmas Box (Dudley, 1847), consisting of 125 pages and containing the words of 48 carols, several of which are still sung in that neighbourhood.

The tune is a very fine variant of one that is constantly used by carol-singers (see ďThe Sinner's Redemption,Ē No. 8 ; Folk-Songs from Somerset, No. 96 and The Folk-Song Societyís Journal, IV, pp. 15-22).

Sheet Music "Searching for Lambs" from Cecil Sharp, Folk Songs from Somerset, Part IV, #96.

Searching_For_Lambs-01-Sharp-Somerset-4.jpg (77570 bytes) Searching_For_Lambs-02-Sharp-Somerset-4.jpg (71224 bytes)

Part One is also found in G. Walters, A Good Christmas Box (Dudley: G. Walters, 1847, Reprinted by Michael Raven, 2007), pp. 35-36. The only difference was an additional word in verse six, line 2: [thee]. Part Two is found on pp. 50-53.

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