The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Of On That Is So Fayr and Bright

For Christmas

Words: English Traditional from Egerton Ms. 613 (Detailed Record) and also Egerton Ms. 613 (Links to Folios), fol. 2r, British Library, London
Of On That Is So Fayr and Bri3t (Morris, 1872)

Music: Not Stated

Source: E. K. Chambers and F. Sidgwick, eds., Early English Lyrics (London: A. H. Bullen, 1907), #XLVI, pp. 92-93.

Of on that is so fayr and bright
    Velud maris stella,
Brighter than the day is light,
    Parens et puella ;
Ic crie to the, thou se to me, 5
Levedy, preye thi sone for me,
    Tarn pia,
That ic mote come to the, Maria !
Of kare conseil thou ert best, 10
    Felix fecundata ;

Of alle wery thou ert rest,
    Mater honorata.
Bisek him wiz milde mod,.
That for ous alle sad is blod 15
    In cruce.
That we moten comen til him
    In luce,

Al this world was forlore,
    Eva peccatrice, 20
Tyl our lord was ibore
    De te genetrice.
With Ave it went away
Thuster nyth and comet the day
    Salutis ; 25
The welle springet hut of the

Levedi, flour of alle thing,
    Rosa sine spina,
Thu bere Jhesu, hevene king, 30
    Gratia divina ;
Of alle thu berst the pris,
Levedi, quene of Parays
Mayde milde, moder es 35

Wei he wot he is thi sone,
    Ventre quern portasti ;
He wyl nout werne the thi bone,
    Parvum quern lactasti. 40
So hende and so god he his,
He havet brout ous to blis
That, havez hidut the foule put
    Inferni. 45


10 conseil, consolation.

14 Bisek, beseech.

24 Thuster, dark.

39. tuerne, refuse.

44. hidut, closed : put, pit.

41. hende, kindly, courteous.

Editor's Notes:

Also found in Thomas Wright and James Orchard Halliwell, eds., Reliquiæ Antiquæ. Volume One of Two Volumes. (London: John Russell Smith, 1845), "A Hymn To The Virgin," pp. 89-90. In this version, the poem concludes with one additional line:

Explicit cantus iste.

Wright and Halliwell give this source: From MS. Egerton (In British Museum) No. 613, fol. 2, ro of the thirteenth century. Of course, the British Museum transferred this manuscript and most others to the British Library, which was formally opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in June 1998. Egerton MS 613 is now on-line, including fol. 2r, the first line of which is seen below.

Of on þat is so faỳr and briƺt.
(Font is Junicode, a Unicode font for medievalists created by Peter Baker)

In this version, the poem contains Middle English characters no longer commonly used.

Hymn_To_Virgin_Wright_Reliquiae-I-89.jpg (37227 bytes) Hymn_To_Virgin_Wright_Reliquiae-I-90.jpg (54217 bytes)

Early English Lyrics

Of On That Is So Fayr and Bright
#XLVI, pp. 92-93.

Note to #XLVI, pp. 345-347.

Egerton 613, Printed Morris, O.E.M., 194. In the MS. the stanzas are written in four lines each ; the second stanza is written fourth, but marked in the margin to be inserted after the first.

Another version, hitherto overlooked, is in T.C.C., B. 14. 39, on the same page as our XLV above [Seinte Mari moder milde], and immediately following it. It is not noted by James, who probably took it to be part of the foregoing poem, which is in the same metre. There is no space left between the two poems; but the facts that the second occurs elsewhere by itself, and that it begins in the Trinity MS. with a two-line red initial letter, may justify the separation. Curiously, the Trinity version gives our fourth stanza as its second; and since it has not been printed, the following collation may be given.

1. For ou ... . (sic).
5. I crie the grace of the.
10. In care . . .
12. To alle , . .
14. Bi hold tou him wid milde . . .
17. Bidde we moten come to . . .
19. Al the world it wes furlorn.
20. Thoru Evn . . .
21. To forn that ihu was iborn.
22. Ex te . . .
23. Thornu aue e wende awai.
24. The thester niht ant com ye . . ,
2K, . . . best of . . .
32. . . . berest that . . .
33. Heie quen in parais,
35. Moder milde ant maidan ec.
37. Vuel thou wost . . .
39, He nul . . .
41. So god ant so mild . , .
42. He bringet us alle into is blis.
44. He havet idut the foule put.

A third poem, in Ashm. 1393, printed E.B.M., ii. 65 (facsimile, i. plate XXVIII), consists of the first four lines of each stanza of this poem, with two additional quatrains. It begins :—

' Enixa est puerpera,
A lady that was so feyre and bright',

and the two other verses are :—

‘ Hou swete he is, hou meke he is
    Nullus memoravit.
In hevyn he is, and hevyn blis
    Nobis preparavit,

Of alle wymmen thu berist the price,
    Mater graciosa,
Graunte us alle paradyce,
    Virgo glonosa ! ’

The antithesis in the third stanza between Eva and Ave is a beloved one, Thus in the Latin Missus Gabriel de Coelis (Daniel, v. 129) :—

‘ Et ex Eva formans Ave,
Evae verso nomine’;

and in the Dame des Cius of the thirteenth century Guillaume le Vinier [Hist. Litt., xxiii. 596) :—

‘ Mout nous troubla
Cele que Diex forma,
Nom ot Eva,
Par li estiens dampne.
    Par la bonte
La Virgene od saintce
    Diex ot pite,
La lettre retorna,
    Avant mist A,
Et au daerrain ve,
Pour Eva dist Ave,
Par quoi somes sauve.’

See also the lines quoted from the Ave Maris Stella in the note to No. LVI [Ave Maria Stella].

Extended Citations:

Egerton 613
Parchment, 8 3/4 x 5 3/4. A few English lyrics of the XIII or early XIV cent, on the first few leaves. The remainder is a miscellany in prose and verse, English and Norman-French ; epistles, religious and moral poems. The MS. bears the name 'Wm. Bentham Esq of Gower Street'; it was purchased by the British Museum in 1836. The lyrics printed in Rel. Ant., and some by Morris, O.E.M. (1872).

Morris, O.E.M., 194.
R. Morris, ed., An Old English Miscellany. (E.E.T.S., 1872), Of On That Is So Fayr and Briζt, pp. 194-195. [Texts from Jesus College, Oxford, I. 29, Cotton Calig. A. ix, Egerton 613, etc.]

Sir John Stainer, ed., Early Bodleian Music. Sacred and Secular Songs together with other MS. Compositions in the Bodleian Library, Oxford : ranging from about a.d. 1185 to about a.d. 1505. With an Introduction by E. W. B. Nicholson, and Transcriptions into Modern Musical Notation by J. F. R. Stainer and C. Stainer. Volume Two of Two volumes (vol. 1, facsimiles, vol. 2, transcriptions), 1901, p. 107 (facsimile, i. plate XLVII).

Editor's Note:

The note to #XLV, Seinte Mari moder milde, references the above note:

Note to #XLV, p. 345.

T.C.C., B. 14. 39. We have not found this poem or any variant of it in print elsewhere. See notes on the following poem [Of On That Is So Fayr and Bright]. The Latin words are written in red.

The dialect is Southern.

2. James, i, 440, in giving the opening of the poem, prints ‘mater saluaturis’, perhaps misled by a hole in the vellum at this point.

Editor's Note:

"Saint Mary, Mother Mild" is found in Rickert, p. 3. She has as a subtitle "Mater Saluaturis."

Also found in Thomas Wright and James Orchard Halliwell, eds., Reliquiæ Antiquæ. Scraps from Ancient Manuscripts, illustrating chiefly Early English Literature and the English Laguage. Vol. 2 of 2 vols. (1841, 1843), "A Hymn To The Virgin," pp. 89-90, with lyrics identical to the above.

"T.C.C." refers to a manuscript at Trinity College, Cambridge, in this case Ms. B. 14. 39. Chambers and Sidgwick have this note:

T.C.C., B. 14. 39, Notes. pp. 308-309.
Trinity College Library, Ms. B. 14. 39. (James, no. 323). Parchment, 7 1/8 x 5 3/8. XIII cent.; Skeat says ‘a Norman scribe.’ (Bound with B. 14. 40, James, no. 324, of the XIV and XV centuries.) Poems in English, Latin, and French.
Some items appear also in the contemporary MSS., Jesus College, Oxford, I. xxix, and Cottonian Calig. A. ix ; see Morris, O.E.M., 158-163. The whole MS., including B. 14. 40, was transcribed in 1843 by Sir Frederick Madden, which transcript is now B. 14. 40a. The MS. was missing from the library 1863-1896. It was used by Hickes for his Thesaurus. Extracts in Rel. Ant. On the French pieces in it, see MSS. Fran
çais de Cambridge by Paul Meyer in Romania (1903). Described, with list of contents, in James, i. 438. [Nos. XLV, XLVII, and note on XLVI.]


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