The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Lullay, My Child, And Wepe No More

For Christmas

Words: English Traditional from Ms. Eng. Poet. e. 1, Bodleian Library, Oxford

Versions on this web site:
Lullay, My Child, And Weep No More (Rickert)

Lullay, My Child, And Wepe No More (Chambers & Sidgwick) [this page]
Lullay, my chyld, and wepe no more - Thomas Wright

Music: Not Stated

Source: E. K. Chambers and F. Sidgwick, eds., Early English Lyrics (London: A. H. Bullen, 1907), #LXIII, p. 119-120.

Lullay, my child, and wepe no more,
    Slepe and be now still.
The king of bliss thy fader is
    As it was his will.

This endris night I saw a sight, 5
    A maid a cradell kepe,
And ever she song and seid among
' Lullay, my child, and slepe.'

I may not slepe, but I may wepe,
    I am so wo begone ; 10
Slepe I wold, but I am colde,
    And clothes have I none.'

Me thought I hard, the child answard,
    And to his moder he said,
' My moder dere, what do I here, 15
    In cribbe why am I laid ?

' I was borne and laid beforne
    Bestes, both ox and asse.
My moder mild, I am thy child,
    But he my fader was. 20

' Adam's gilt this man had spilt ;
    That sin greveth me sore.
Man, for thee here shall I be
    Thirty winter and more.

Dole it is to see, here shall I be 25
    Hanged upon the rode,
With baleis to-bete, my woundes to-wete,
    And yeve my fleshe to bote.

' Here shall I be hanged on a tree,
    And die as it is skill. 30
That I have bought lesse will I nought ;
    It is my fader's will.

' A spere so scharp shall perse my herte,
    For dedes that I have done.
Fader of grace, whether thou has 35
    Forgeten thy litell sone ?

' Withouten pety here shall aby,
    And make my fleshe all bio.
Adam, iwis, this deth it is
    For thee and many mo.' 40


27. baleis, scourgee.

30. skill, reason.

38. bio, pallid.

Notes for #LXIII, p. 351.

Eng. Poet. e. 1. Printed Wright, P.S., 19.

Other versions are in the Howard de Walden MS., and Addl. 5666 (with music), printed Hazlitt-Ritson, introduction, xlviii ; referred to by Ritson, the MS. being then in his possession, (1790), xl ; (1K29), i. lvi.

1. The first stanza is probably a burden, though not printed as such by Wright.

26. hanged ; MS, 'hang'.

35. whether ; MS. 'wher'.

Extended Citations:

Eng. Poet. e. 1.
Eng. Poet. e. 1. Paper, 6 x 4 1/4. ‘Seventy six songs, religious and other, including some Christmas carols and drinking songs, presumably collected for the use of a professed minstrel’ (Madan, v. 679). Written partly in English, partly in Latin, partly in both. In several hands ; two pieces of music (facsimiles in E.B.M.). Variants of several poems in Sloane 2593. Dated 1460-80 by Madan, and ‘about 1485-90’ by Nicholson in E.B.M. Belonged in 1847 to Thomas Wright, but was then lost, and was said to have been taken away by the bookbinder to whom it was entrusted (Chappell, 43, note). It was bought for the Bodleian in 1887 at the sale of the library of Joseph Mayer, who was a patron of Wright’s. Described by Madan as above, and in E.B.M., i. xxiv. Edited complete by Wright in 1847 as No. LXXIII of the Percy Society publications (misquoted XXIII by Flügel, Fehr, and others, owing to an error in the Brit. Mus. Catalogue).

Editor's Note: The reference to "XXIII" (23) is to the Volume number published by the Percy Society's series Early English Poetry, Ballads, and Popular Literature of the Middle Ages. Wright's work was Number LXXIII (73) in their list of publications.

MS Eng. Poet. e. 1. is located in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. Madan is Falconer Madan, Richard W. Hunt, et al., Summary Catalogue of the Western Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library. 7 volumes in 8. (Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1895-1953). E.B.M. refers to Sir John Stainer, ed., Early Bodleian Music. Sacred and Secular Songs together with other MS. Compositions in the Bodleian Library, Oxford : ranging from about a.d. 1185 to about a.d. 1505. Two volumes (vol. i, facsimiles, vol. ii, transcriptions) (London : Novello ; New York : Novello, Ewer, 1901). With an Introduction by E. W. B. Nicholson, and Transcriptions into Modern Musical Notation by J. F. R. Stainer and C. Stainer. A third volume was subsequently published.

The complete description by Madan, pp. 679-680:

29734. In English and Latin, on paper: written about A. D. 1460-80 by several hands : 6 1/4 x 4 3/4 in., in a box lined with red velvet 7 1/4 x 5 3/8 in., 64 leaves : stained and worn in parts, but repaired : binding, green morocco with gold ornament, done for mr. J. Mayer (19th cent.).

Seventy-six songs, religious and other, including some Christmas carols and drinking songs, presumably collected for the use of a professed minstrel : a few have the music as well as the words (foll. 40v , 41v , 50v).

This valuable MS. was edited for the Percy Society (vol. 23) in 1847, see also W. Chappel's Popular Music of the Olden Time (1855-7), i. 41. Most of the songs are in English or mixed English and Latin, a few in Latin alone.

In 1847 this volume was owned by Thomas Wright, who edited it : he subsequently lost it, and it was bought by the Bodleian at the Joseph Mayer sale (lot 42) on July 19, 1887, for £16.

[On this MS. see further 'Early Bodleian music' i. p. xxiv and plates 99-100 (where I have ascribed the date 'about 1485-90'), ii. pp. 182-4. E. W. B. N.]

Now MS. Eng. poet. e. 1.

Source: Falconer Madan, A summary catalogue of Western manuscripts in the Bodleian Library at Oxford which have not hitherto been catalogued in the quarto series with references to the Oriental and other manuscripts. Vol. V: Collections received during the second half of the 19th century and miscellaneous MSS. acquired between 1695 and 1890. Nos. 24331-31000. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1905), pp. 679-80.

In the Preface to Songs and Carols Now First Printed From a Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century, Thomas Wright wrote:

The following very curious collection of old English Songs and Carols is printed verbatim from a manuscript at present in the possession of the Editor. It appears by the writing and language to have been written in the latter half of the fifteenth century, probably during the period intervening between the latter end of the reign of Henry VI [1421-1471], and the beginning of that of Henry VII [1457-1509]; a date which is confirmed by the fact that the few other copies of songs in this collection that occur elsewhere, are invariably found in manuscripts of the reign of Henry VI or of the age immediately following.

This manuscript has in all probability belonged to a professed minstrel, who sang at festivals and merry makings, and it has therefore been thought to merit publication entire, as giving a general view of the classes of poetry then popular. A rather large proportion of its contents consists of carols and religious songs, such as were sung at Christmas, and perhaps at some other of the great festivals of the church; and these are interesting illustrations of the manners and customs of the age.

Another class of productions, in which this manuscript is for its date peculiarly rich, consists of drinking songs, some of which are singular in their form and not wanting in spirit. The collection also contains a number of those satirical songs against the fair sex, which were so common in the middle ages, and which have a certain degree of importance as showing the condition of private society among our forefathers. In addition to these three classes, the manuscript contains a few short moral poems, which also are not without their peculiar interest.

Manuscript collections of songs like the present, of so early a date, are of great rarity. The only one with which I am acquainted, which may be considered of exactly the same character, is the MS. Sloane, No 2593, in the British Museum, which has generally been ascribed to the reign of Henry VI.

See: Songs and Carols Printed From A Manuscript in the Sloane Collection in the British Museum (London: William Pickering, 1836); twenty songs and carols from Sloane MS 2593, and Songs and Carols from a Manuscript in the British Museum of the Fifteenth Century (The Warton Club, 1856); the complete Sloane MS 2593.

Wright, P.S., 19.
Thomas Wright, ed., Songs and Carols Now First Printed From a Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century (Percy Society, 1847), Lullay, my chyld, and wepe no more, p. 19. [Texts from Eng. Poet, e.1, then in Wright’s possession.]

The Howard de Walden Ms.
The Howard de Walden Ms. is privately owned. The note in the text concerning the manuscript says:

Howard de Walden MS. The MS. appears from a note to have been given on 12 December, 1418, to an anonymous possessor by Master Thomas Turke, formerly vicar perpetual of Brading, Isle of Wight, then a Carthusian at Henton, Somerset. Various notes refer to places in Somerset and Dorset. Most of the contents have music. The MS. was sold at Sotheby's, 14 December, 1903 (lot 678) and again in 1904; see Madan, v. Corrections xxviii under no. 21956. Privately printed as Music, Cantelenas, Songs, etc.

See: L.S.M, ed., Music, Cantelenas, Songs, etc., From An Early Fifteenth Century Manuscript (London: Printed at the Dryden Press, by J. Davy & Sons, 1906). One hundred copies were privately printed for Lord Howard de Walden. The volume consists of facsimile of the music and transcription into modern notation on opposite pages. Twelve of these songs are in English and four in French. Copies are available at Google Books.

Addl. 5666 (with music),
Additional 5665. Chiefly paper ; some parchment leaves inserted ; 10 x 7. MS. note, 'Presented by J. Ritson Esq. 7 August 1795.' Latin and English songs, with music throughout ; the poems probably belonging to the reigns of Edward IV, Henry VII, and the early years of Henry VIII ; the composers include Henry VIII, R. Smart, John Trouluffe, Ric. Mower, Sir T. Pakke, H. Petyr, Edm. Sturges, John Cornish, Sir W. Hawte, Extracts in Ritson (as from his 'Folio MS.'), Stafford Smith, Wright, Specimens of Old Christmas Carols, Rimbault, and Ewald Flügel, Neuenglisches Lesebuch. Edited in Archiv CVI, 262, by B. Fehr, who prints all that is not in the above. [No. CXLVI.]

    Editor's Note: The reference to Fehr is to Bernhard Fehr, "Die Lieder der Hs. Add. 5665 (Ritson's Folio-Ms.)," in Alois Brandl and Adolf Tobler, eds., Archiv für das Studium der Neueren Sprachen und Litteraturen. CVI Band  / Vol. 106. (Braunschweig: George Westermann, 1901), pp. 262-285.

Hazlitt-Ritson, Introduction, xlviii ;
Joseph Ritson, ed., Ancient Songs and Ballads From the Reign of King Henry the Second to the Revolution. Third Edition, revised W. Carew Hazlitt. (London: Reeves and Turner, 1877), p. xlvii-xlviii.

Lullay_Lullow-Ritson-Ancient_Songs-1829-I-lv_lvi.jpg (40941 bytes)

Ritson (1790),  xl; 
Joseph Ritson, ed., Ancient Songs, from the time of King Henry the Third to the Revolution. (London: J. Johnson, 1790), p. xxxix-xl. "Advertisement in 1829 edition says that this edition was printed in 1787, dated 1790, and published 1792."

Ritson (1829), i. lvi.
Joseph Ritson. ed., Ancient Songs and Ballads, from the reign of King Henry the Second to the Revolution. Volume 1 of 2 vols. (London: For Payne and Foss by Thomas Davison, 1829), p. lv-lvi

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