The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Off A Rose, A Louely Rose

For Christmas

Words: English Traditional from the Balliol Ms. 354, folio 220b.

Source: Ewald Flügel, ed., “Liedersammlungen des XVI Jahrhunderts, Besonders Aus Der Zeit Heinrichs VIII. III. 6. Die lieder des Balliol Ms. 354,” in Eugen Einenkel, ed., Anglia - Zeitschrift für englische Philologie enthaltend Beitrage zur Geschlicht der englischen Sprache und Literatur. Band XXVI. (Halle: Max Niemeyer, 1903), pp. 232-233.

Off a rose, a louely rose
And of a rose I syng a song!

1. Herkyn to me both olde & yonge,
how a rose began to spryng,
A fayerer rose to my lykyng
        sprong yer neuer inkynges londe.

2. VI braunches are on yat rose beme,
They be both bryght and shene.
The rose ys called mary hevyn quenem
        Of her bosum a blossum spronge.

3. The fyrst branch was of gret myght,
That spronge on crystmas nyght!
The sterne shon over bedlem bryght
        yat men myght se both brode & longe.

4. The ijde braunch was of gret honowr,
yat was sent from hevyn towr!
blessyd be yat fayer flowr,
        breke it shall the fendes bondes!

5. The thyrd braunch wyde sprede,
ther mary lay in her bede,
The bryngt strem iij kynges lede
        to bedlem yet yat branch yei fond.

6. The iiijth sprong in to hell,
the fendes bost for to fell,
ther myght no sowle yer in dwell
        blessid be yat tyme yat branch gan spryng!

7. The Vth braunch was fayer in fote,
yat sprong to hevyn tope & rote,
yet to dwell & be owr bote
        & yet ys sene in priestes hondes.

8. The VIth braunch by & by,
yt ys the V Ioyes of mylde mary!
Now cryst saue all this cumpany,
        & sende vs gud lyff & long!

Editor's Note:

In many cases, the "y" character was printed instead of the Thorne (þ) character. "yat" thus should be "þat," which we would transliterate as "that."

Editor's Note:

Other versions of this carol on this website:

There are other carols on this web site with similar first lines or burdens, although they have very separate themes and lyrics, including:

"Listen, Lordings, Both Great and Small" (Burden: A, a, a, a, Nunc gaudet ecclesia):

"Listen, Lordings, both leve and dear" (Nowell, -ell, both Old and Young):

"Listen, Lordings, Both More and Less" (Burden: Puer nobis natus est de Virgine Maria)

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