A Caroll of the Innocents
For The Innocents
This carol requires
the installation of the "Junicode" font for best display.
See notes in F A Q
1. Marke this songe, for it is trewe,
For it is trewe, as clerkes tell:
In olde tyme straüg thyngs cam to pas,
Grete wonder and grete meruayll was
There was one Octauyan,
Octauyan of Rome Emperour,
As bokes olde doth specyfye,
Of all the wyde worlde trulye
He was lorde and gouernour.
2. The Jewes that tyme lackyd a kyng,
They lackyd a kyng to gyde them well,
The Emperour of power and myght
Chose one Herode agaynst all ryght
This Herode thä was kynge of Jewys,
Was kyng of Jewys, and he no Jewe
Forsothe he was a Panym borne,
Wherfore on fayth it may be sworne
He reygned kynge vntrewe.
3. By prophesye one Isay,
One Isay at lest dyd tell,
A chylde should come, wöderous newys,
That shold be borne trewe kyng of Jewys
This Herode knew one borne shold be,
One borne sholde be of trewe lenage,
That sholde be ryght herytour;
For he but by the Emperour
Was made by vsurpage.
4. Wherfore of throught this kyng
This kynge Herode in grete fere fell,
For all the days most in his myrth,
Euer he fered Chrystes byrth
The tyme came it pleased God,
It pleased God so to come to pas,
For mannes soule in dede
His blyssed sone was borne wyth spede,
As his wyll was.
5. Tydynges came to kynge Herode,
To kynge Herode, and dyd hym tell,
That one borne forsoth is he,
Which lorde and kynge of all shall be
Herode thä raged as he were woode,
As he were wode of this tydynge,
And sent for all his scrybes sure,
Yet wolde he not trust the scrypture,
Nor of theyr councellynge.
6. That this was the conclusyon,
The conclusyon of his councell,
To sende vnto his knyghtes anone
To sle the chylderne euerychone
This cruell kynge this tyranny,
This tyranny dyd put in vre,
Bytwene a day and yeres too
All men chylderne he dyd sloo,
Of Cryst for to be sure.
7. Yet Herode myssed his cruell pray,
His cruell pray, as was goddes wyll,
Joseph with Mary than dyd fle,
With Chryst to Egypt gone was she,
And all whyle this tyrantes,
This tyrantes wolde not cöuert,
But innocentes yonge
That lay sokynge,
They thryst to the herte.
8. This Herode sought the chyldren,
This chyldren yonge, with corage fell,
But in doynge thys vengeaunce
His owne sone was slayne by chaunce
Alas! I thynke the moders were wo,
The moders were wo, it was grete skyl
What motherly payne
To se them slayne;
In cradels lyeng styll!
9. But God him selfe hath theym electe,
Hath theym electe, in heuyn to dwell,
For they were bathed in theyr blode,
For theyr baptym forsoth it stode
Alas! agayne what hartes had they,
What harts had they those babes to kyll;
With swerdes whan they hym caught,
In cradels they lay and laught,
And neuer thought yll.
This [is] from Bibliographical Miscellanies, Oxford, 1813, 4to. being there taken from "Christmas Carolles," printed by Richard Kele, probably between 1546 and 1552.
This is one of the carols that were first printed by Richard Kele, Christmas Carolles Newly Inprynted (circa 1550), reprinted in Philip Bliss, Biographical Miscellanies (1813), and included in Edward Bliss Reed, Christmas Carols of the 16th Century, Including Kele's Christmas Carolles Newly Inprynted (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1932).
If you would like to help support Hymns and Carols of Christmas, please click on the button below and make a donation.