The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

The Old Year Now Away Is Fled

Alternate Title: Carol For New Year's Day

Words: English Traditional, From a Black Letter Collection, 1642,
Ashmolean Library, Oxford

Music: Greensleeves
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF

Source: A. H. Bullen, A Christmas Garland (London: John C. Nimmo, 1885), pp. 211-3.

1. The old year now away is fled,
The new year it is entered;
Then let us all our sins down tread,
    And joyfully all appear.
Let's merry be this holiday,
And let us run with sport and play,
Hang1 sorrow, let's cast care away
    God send us a merry new year!2 3

2. For Christ's circumcision this day we keep,
Who for our sins did often weep;
His hands and feet were wounded deep,
    And his blessed side, with a spear.
His head they crowned then with thorn,
And at him they did laugh and scorn,
Who for to save our souls was born;
    God send us a happy New Year!

3. And now with New-Year's gifts each friend
Unto each other they do send;
God grant we may our lives amend,
    And that truth may now appear.
Now like the snake cast off your skin
Of evil thoughts and wicked sin,
And to amend this new year begin:
    God send us a merry new year!

4. And now let all the company
In friendly manner all agree,
For we are here welcome all may see
    Unto this jolly good cheer.
I thank my master and my dame,
The which are founders of the same,
To eat, to drink now is no shame:
    God send us a happy new year!4

5. Come lads and lasses every one,
Jack, Tom, Dick, Bess, Mary and Joan,
Let's cut the meat unto the bone,
    For welcome you need not fear. 
And here for good liquor you shall not lack,
It will whet my brains and strengthen my back; 
This jolly good cheer it must go to wrack:
    God send us a happy new year!

6. Come, give's more liquor when I do call, 
I'll drink to each one in this hall,
I hope that so loud I must not bawl,
    So unto me lend an ear.
Good fortune to my master send,
And to our dame which is our friend,
Lord bless us all, and so I end:
    God send us a happy new year!

Sheet Music by Arthur Henry Brown from Henry Ramsden Bramley and John Stainer, Christmas Carols New and Old, Third Series (London: Novello, Ewer & Co., ca 1878), Carol #52.

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Sheet Music by Arthur Henry Brown from Rev. Charles Lewis Hutchins, Carols Old and Carols New (Boston: Parish Choir, 1916), Carol #690
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF
In this version, there is an appended chorus to each verse which consists of the last four lines of the verse, set to a different tune.

Sheet Music: Richard R. Terry, Twelve Christmas Carols. London: J. Curwen & Sons, Ltd., 1912, p. 21.
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF

Notes:

1. Or: Leave Return

2. Or: God send you a happy new year! (Each of the 3 verses from Bramley and Stainer) Return

3. In the version printed by Bramley and Stainer, the first three verses only are reproduced.  Each is followed by its own chorus, which is a reprise of the last four lines of the verse. Return

4. The last four lines of the third verse from Bramley and Stainer

Good fortune to my master send,
And to my dame which is our friend,
God bless us all, and so I end,
God send us a happy new year. Return

Earthly Delights: Xmas Carols

The tune 'Greensleeves' has a long history- though it is not as 'Medieval' as many imagine. It was first registered in 1580 to a Richard Jones - with a set of lyrics which were not in the least religious. Some ascribe authorship to Henry VIII. There is no evidence for this, but his daughter, Queen Elizabeth I is said to have danced to it. Shakespeare mentioned it by name twice in the The Merry Wives of Windsor - hired bands of musicians played the tune slowly as traitors were hanged. The lyric offered [at this site] is a waits carol, from New Christmas Carols, 1642 (in the unique black-letter collection of Antony Wood) which the writer says goes 'to the tune of Greensleeves'.

See this extensive note on Greensleeves from William Chappell, The Ballad Literature and Popular Music of the Olden Time. London: Chappell & Co., 1859, pp. 227-233. The text version is substantially the same, but bears a comparison.

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