The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Now may we syngyn as it is

For Christmas

Words: English Traditional from a Manuscript in Trinity College Library, O. 3. 58. (James, no. 1230).
See: Cambridge UK, Trinity College O.3.58 (1230)

Music: English Traditional

Source: J. A. Fuller Maitland, English Carols of the Fifteenth Century. (London: The Leadenhall Press, E.C., ca. 1891), Carol #VI, p. 7.

This carol requires the installation of the "Junicode" font for best display.
You can obtain a copy of this font from Old English at the University of Virginia, or right click here, and then select "Save File As" to save a copy of the zipped file to your computer. See notes in F A Q.

Note: Because Middle English contains letters not found in modern English, I've used a special font, "Junicode" created by Professor Peter S. Baker, Professor of English, University of Virginia on some pages.  I will note on the individual carol's page which ones need this font. You can obtain a copy of this font from his website Old English at the University of Virginia (select "Windows TrueType," or right click here, and then select "Save File As" to save a copy of the zipped file to your computer).  This font must be downloaded and installed before these pages will display accurately.

Now may we syngyn as it is
quod puer natus est nobis.

1. This babe to us that now is bore.
Wundyrful werkys he hath i wrowt.
He wil not lese that was I lore.
But boldly aƺen it bowth.

And thus it is
ffor sothe I wys
he askyth nouth but that is hys.

2. This chaffare fouyd he rith weel.
The prys was hey & bowth ful dere
Qwo wold suffre and for us feele
As dede that prince was owtyn pere
    And thus it is, (etc.)

3. Hys raunsum for us hath I payd.
Of resoun than we owyn to ben hys
Be mercy askyd and he be prayd.
We may be rith kalange blys.
    And thus it is, (etc.)

4. To sum parpos god made man.
I leue weel to saluacyoun
Qwat was his blood that fro hym ran.
But defens aƺens dampnacyoun.
    And thus it is, (etc.)

5. Almythy god in trynyte.
Thy mercy we pray wyth hool herte
Thy mercy may all woo make fle.
And daungerous dreed fro us do sterte.
    And thus it is, (etc.)

J. A. Fuller Maitland, English Carols of the Fifteenth Century. London: The Leadenhall Press, E.C., ca. 1891, VI.

Carol in Original Form From a 15th Century Manuscript

Carol in Modern Form

Editor's Note:

In Fuller Maitland, the text is in a Chancery-type calligraphy (p. 7, reproduced above). The modernized text is found on p. 37 together with the music, both as it was and in a contemporary format.

This description of the source manuscript is from Chambers and Sidgwick, Early English Lyrics (London: A. H. Bullen, 1907):

T.C.C., O. 3. 58
Trinity College Library, O. 3. 58. (James, no. 1230). Parchment roll 7 inches wide, and 6 feet 7 inches long. One side bears a Latin ecclesiastical treatise; the other 13 carols and poems with music, perhaps by John Dunstable (see Bodl. Selden B. 26). Df the XV cent.; the forms of the words indicate northern origin. A variant of the Agincourt song is the only secular poem. The MS. was presented in 1838 to the College by H. O. Roe, Esq. Described in James, iii. 247. Edited with a facsimile and added vocal parts by J. A. Fuller Maitland and W. S. Rockstro in 1891, English Carols of the Fifteenth Century, from a MS. Roll in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge.

Editor's Note.

This carol is found in two manuscripts. Versions of this carol from these two manuscripts on this website include:

I. Balliol Ms. 354, the Richard Hill Commonplace Book

II. Trinity College O.3.58 (1230), Cambridge UK

And see also John Stevens, ed. Mediaeval Carols. Musica Britannica 4. (London: Stainer and Bell, 1952, 2nd ed. 1958), p. 4.

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