The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Now Gladdeth Every Living Creature
Alternate Title: Christ's Nativity
For Christmas
Words: William Dunbar (c. 1460-1525)
Music: Not Stated

Source: Francis Turner Palgrave, ed., The Treasury of Sacred Song: Selected from the English Lyrical Poetry of Four Centuries, with Notes, Explanatory and Biographical (Oxford: At The Clarendon Press, 1889), p. 1.

1. Now gladdeth every living creáture,
With bliss and comfortable gladnéss,
The heaven's King is clad in our natúre,
Us from the death with ransom to redress;
The lamp of joy, that chases all darknéss,
Ascended is to be the world's1 light,
From every bale2 our boundés3 for to bliss,
Born of the glorious Virgin Mary bright.
2. Above the radiant heaven ethereal,
The Court of Stars, the course of sun and moon,
The potent Prince of Joy Imperial,
The high surmounting Emperor abone4,
Is coming from His mighty Father's throne
In5 earth, with an inestimable light,
And praised6 of angels with a sweet intone;
Born of the glorious Virgin Mary bright.
3. Who ever in earth heard so blythe a story,
Or tidings of so great felicity?
As how the garthé7 of all grace and glory,
For love and mercy hath ta'en humanity;
Maker of angels, man, earth, heaven, and sea,
And t' overcome our foe, and put to flight,
Is coming a babe, full of benignity,
Born of the glorious Virgin Mary bright.
4. The sovereign senior of all celsitude8,
That sits above the order'd Cherabin,
Which all things creat, and all things does include,
That never end shall, never did begin,
But9 Whom is naught, from Whom no time does rin10,
With Whom all good is, with Whom is every wight,
Is with His wounds come for to wash our sin;
Born of the most chaste Virgin Mary bright.
Footnotes by Palgrave:

1. world's, a dissyllable Return

2. bale, sorrow Return

3. boundes, apparently boundaries of the earth Return

4. abone, above Return

5. in earth, to Return

6. after praised, is omitted Return

7 garthe, literally garden; that which contains Return

8. celsitude, height Return

9. but, without Return

10. rin, run Return

Editor's Note:

Also found in William Angus Knight (1836-1916), ed., Gathered Riches from the older Poets. A.D. 1340-1699. (London: Houlston and Wright, 1865), pp. 10-11, with an additional doxology at the end of the carol:

All welcome we the Prince of Paradise,
Born of the glorious Virgin Mary bright.

Also found in William Knight, ed., The Poets On Christmas (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1907), pp. 29-30, with the same doxology at the end of the carol.

Print Page Return Home Page Close Window

If you would like to help support Hymns and Carols of Christmas, please click on the button below and make a donation.