The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Nou Skrinketh Rose And Lylie Flour

For Christmas

Words: English Traditional from Harley Ms. 2253, British Library, London

Music: Not Stated

Source: E. K. Chambers and F. Sidgwick, eds., Early English Lyrics (London: A. H. Bullen, 1907), #XLVIII, p. 97-98

Nou skrinketh rose and lylie flour,
That whilen ber that suete savour
    In somer, that suete tyde ;
Ne is no quene so stark ne stour,
Ne no levedy so bryht in bour, 5
    That ded ne shal by glyde.
Whose wol fleyshlust forgon,
    And hevene blis abyde,
On Jesu be is thoht anon,
    That therled was ys side. 10

From Petresbourh in o morewenyng,
As I me wende omy pleyghyng,
    On mi folie I thohte.
Menen I gon my mournyng
To hire that ber the hevene kyng ; 15
    Of merci hire bysohte, '
Ledy, preye thi sone for ous,
    That us duere bohte,
Ant shild us from the lothe hous
    That to the fend is wrohte ! ' 20

Myn herte of dedes wes fordred,
Of synne that I have my fleish fed,
    Ant folewed al my tyme,
That I not whider I shal be led,
When I lygge on dethes bed,
    In ioie ore in to pyne.
On a ledy myn hope is,
    Moder and virgyne ;
We shulen in to hevene blis
    Thurh hire medicine. 30

Betere is hire medycyn
Then eny mede or eny wyn ;
    Hire erbes smulleth suete.
From Catenas in to Dyvelyn
Nis ther no leche so fyn 35
    Oure serewes to bete.
Mon that feleth eni sor,
    Ant his folie wol lete,
Withoute gold other eny tresor,
    He may be sound ant sete. 40

Of penaunce is hire piastre al,
Ant ever serven hire I shal,
    Nou ant al my lyve.
Nou is fre that er wes thral,
Al thourh that levedy gent ant smal. 45
    Heried be hyre ioies fyve !
Wher so eny sek ys,
    Thider hye blyve ;
Thurh hire beoth ybroht to blis
    Bo maiden ant wyve. 50

For he that dude his body on tre,
Of oure sunnes have piete,
    That weldes heouene boures !
Wymmon, with thi iolyfte,
    Thou thench on Godes shoures ; 55
Thah thou be whyt and bryht. on ble,
    Falewen shule thy floures.
Jesu, have merci of me,
    That al this world honoures. Amen. 60


1 skrinketh, shrink.

6 ded, death.

7 Whosé = whoso.

10 therled, pierced.

12 omy, on my.

14 meneny to lament.

26 fytie, torture.

34 From Caithness to Dublin.

36 bete, remedy.

40 sete, proper, whole.

46 heried, honoured.

48 Thither hasten quickly.

53 weldes, rules.

55 shoures, fear, terror.

57 falewen, fade.

Note to #XLVIII, p. 347.

Harl. 2253. Printed Böddeker, 213 ; Wright, S.L.P., 87. The text is a Southern translation of a Midland poem.

On the adaptation of the secular chanson d'aventure to the purposes of a religious theme, see the Essay (p. 286).

58. me; MS. ‘us’,

Extended Citations:

Harl. 2253,
Harley 2253 in the British Museum. Parchment, 11 1/2 x 7 1/2. Miscellany of Latin, Anglo-French, and English verse and prose, in various hands. Wright conjectured it to be from Leominster Abbey, Herefordshire ; the collector a clerk ; Böddeker supposes him to have been a vagans. The poems are in Southern English, often translated from other dialects. An allusion to the death of Edward I shows that the MS. was not complete in 1307. Some of the English poems printed by Wright, ; all the English poems by Böddeker, who gives (ix) a complete list of contents. Ten Brink, vol. i, has good estimate of literary value of MS. Variants of some of the non-erotic lyrics appear in Egerton 613, Digby 86, and other MSS.

See: Böddeker, "Englische Lieder und Balladen aus dem 16. Jahrhundert." [In Lemeke’s Jahrbuch, Neue Folge, (q.v.), ii. 81, 210, 347; iii. 92.] [Texts from Cott. Vesp. A. xxv.]. See: Adolf Ebert and Ludwig Gustav Konstantin Lemcke, eds., Jahrbuch für romanische und englische Sprache und Literatur, Neue Folge, II Band / Volume 2 (Leipzig: B. G. Teubner, 1875)

Böddeker, 213 ;
Karl Böddeker, Altenglische Dichtungen des MS. Harl. 2253. (Berlin: Weidmannsche buchhandlung, 1878), pp. 220-222.

Wright, S.L.P., 87.
Thomas Wright, ed., Specimens of Lyric Poetry, composed in England in the reign of Edward the First (Percy Society, 1842), p. 87. [Texts from Harl. 2253.]

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