The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Masters in This Hall

Version 1
Compare Masters in This Hall - Version 2
Alternate Title: Nowell, Sing We Clear

English Lyrics by William Morris, 1834-1896

Tune: French
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF

1. Masters in this hall
Hear ye news today,
Brought from over seas
And ever you I pray:

Chorus
Sing we now noel,
Sing we noel clear!
Holpen all the folk on earth
Born the Son of God so dear!

2. Then to Bethl'em town
Went we two by two,
In a sorry place
We heard the oxen low: Chorus

3. Ox and ass Him know,
Kneeling on their knee,
Wonderous joy had I
This little babe to see.Chorus

4. This is Christ, the Lord,
Masters be ye glad!
Christmas is come in,
And no folk shall be sad! Chorus

Earthly Delights: Xmas Carols

The tune for this carol has a long association with dance. It was originally French and included in Raoul-Augur Feuillet's 1703 Recueil de contredanse along with a longways proper dance, 'La Matelotte', which Feuillet had himself written to go with the tune. In 1710 John Essex published a translation of this work, For the Further Improvement of Dancing, in which the dance is given as 'The Female Saylor'. It is unclear, however, whether the tune entered English folk tradition at that point, or whether it was reintroduced latter - possibly by a certain Edmund Sedding who is said to have obtained it in the mid-19th century from the organist of Chartre Cathedral. Whatever the case, sometime around 1860 William Morris put his carol 'Master in this Hall' to the tune. A hundred years later Pat Shaw  had a look at Feuillet's dance as it appeared in John Essex's book and published a version in his 1965 Six Simple Country Dances. 

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