The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Nowel. To Us Is Born Our God Emmanuel

For Christmas

Words and melody from a parchment roll in the library of Trinity College, Cambridge. Mode VIII.

Date: Fifteenth Century.

Compare: In Beth'lem This Berd Of Life

Source: Sir Richard Runciman Terry, A Medieval Carol Book: The Melodies Chiefly from MMS. in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, and in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd., 1932), Carol #22, pp. 42-43.

Refrain:

Nowel, nowel, nowel,
To us is born our God Emmanuel.

1. In Bedlem this Berd2 of life
Is born of Mary maiden and wife,
He is both God and Man I schrife.3
    Nowel, Nowel.
This Prince of Peace shall setyn9 all strife
And dwell with us perpetuelle.

2. This Child shall buy us with His blood,
And be nailėd upon the rood.
His ransom paseth all earthly good.
    Nowel. Nowel.
Alas! What wight dare bė so wood,4
To slay so gentle a jewel?"

3. By His power He His emprise5
Shall take from hell, at His uprise
And save mankind upon this wise
    Nowel, Nowel.
Thus telleth us the prophecies,
That He is King of Heaven and Hell.

4 This maiden's Son to His empire
Shall rise, to heaven by His power;
The Holy Ghost us all shall lere
6
    Nowel, Nowel.
(For lo the Son) and the Father in fere,
7
Shall reign, One God; this leve
8 I well.

5. Pray we this Child with good intent,
That at our dying He us present
Unto His Father Omnipotent,
    Nowel, Nowel.
The first tidings of this testament
Brought unto us Saint Gabriel.

Notes from Rev. Terry:

1. [At the beginning of the first verse] I have omitted two superfluous beats rest here.

2. Berd -- Child. Return

3. Schrife -- proclaim, assert. This is an extended meaning of the word, but it has the authority of the N.F.D. [Ed. a Dictionary, I presume]  Return

4. Wood -- mad. Return

5. Emprise -- booty. Applied to prisoners to whom the victor has a right. Return

6. Lere -- Teach. Return

7. In fere -- together. Return

8. Leve -- believe. Return

9. Setyn -- Put to rest. Return

Sheet Music from Sir Richard Runciman Terry, A Medieval Carol Book: The Melodies Chiefly from MMS. in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, and in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd., 1932), Carol #22, pp. 42-43.

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Editor's Note:

The manuscript "MS. Eng. poet. e. 1." was the source manuscript for Thomas Wright's Songs and Carols Now First Printed From a Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century; it is now in the Bodleian Library.

See in the Bodleian Library, MS. Eng. poet. e. 1 (scroll down to get to "e. 1"), c. 1460-1480. There is a single image, fol. 41v, described as "Musical notation in a minstrel's manuscript; the text begins "Nowell, nowell, nowell, pis is pe salutacyon of pe angel gabryell" with "Bryng us in good ale" in lower margin, c. 1460-90; anglicana script." It doesn't appear that the entire volume has been scanned, or, if so, that it is readily available for viewing.

Comtrast: Nowel. To Us Is Born Our God Emmanuel (With Sheet Music) from the Selden MS. (Selden MS. B.26 f. 27v.), Bodleian Library, Oxford. Mode VIII.

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