The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

On Christmas Night, All Christians Sing

For Christmas

Words: On Christmas Night All Christians Sing, Attributed to Bishop Luke Waddinge (1628- ca. 1691), Bishop of Ferns, Ireland
A Smale Garland of Pious and Godly Songs (Ghent, 1684)

This is one of many variants of this carol;
See
On Christmas Night - Notes and On Christmas Night - Sheet Music.

Lyrics and music collected by Lucy Broadwood from Mr. Grantham, Holmwood, Surrey, Feb. 1892 Five verses of 6 lines.
See: On Christmas Night - R. Vaughan Williams.

Music: English Traditional
Tune 1 noted by Lucy Broadwood from Mr. Grantham (Carter), Holmwood, Surrey, Feb , 1892.

Source: The Journal of the Folk-Song Society, Vol. 2, #29, "On Christmas Night All Christians Sing," p. 127.

1. On Christmas night all Christians sing
     To hear what news our angels bring.
On Christmas night all Christians sing
     To hear what news our angels bring.
News of great joy, and news of mirth,
News of our merciful King's birth.

2. The King of Kings, of earth and heaven,
     The King of angels and of men !
The King of Kings, of earth and heaven,
     The King of angels and of men !
Angels and men, rejoice and sing !
All for to see our new-born King.

3. Angels and men, sing in the air,
     Which (? For) Christ man's ruin may repair.
Angels and men, sing in the air,
     Which (? For) Christ man's ruin may repair.
When prisoners in their chains rejoice
To hear the echo of His voice.

4. Why on earth can man be sad ?
     Redeemer is come for to make us glad ;
Why on earth can man be sad ?
     Redeemer is come for to make us glad ;
From sin and death hath set us free,
For He has brought us liberty.

5. From out of darkness we have light.
     Which makes all angels sing this night,
From out of darkness we have light.
     Which makes all angels sing this night,
" Glory to God, and peace to men,
Both now and for evermore. Amen."

 

Sheet Music noted by Lucy Broadwood, Journal of the Folk-Song Society, Vol. 2, p. 127.

 

Sheet Music noted by R. Vaughan Williams, Journal of the Folk-Song Society, Vol. 2, p. 127.

Notes:

Following the sheet music noted by RVW, it was noted:

Mrs. Verrall sang almost exactly the same words as Mr. Grantham, though fewer [four] verses. Compare the tunes with Hark, Hark, What News in W. Sandys Christmas Carols, 1833. The words of both these were still being annually printed up to 1823 on ballad-sheets. (See Hone's Ancient Mysteries, 1823, pp.97-99). -- L. E. B.

See: On Christmas Night All Christians Sing (Mrs. Verrall's lyrics and tune noted by Dr. Williams, 1904).

Also in this issue there was this variant of the carol:

28. ON CHRISTMAS NIGHT THE JOY-BELLS RING.

Tune noted by James Cooksey Culwick (1845-1907), Mus. Doc.; sung by Colliers In South Staffordshire.

On Christmas night, the joy bells ring
To tell what news the angels bring,
News of great gladness, news of great mirth,
News of the blessed Saviour's birth.

 

 

Following the sheet music was this note:

"Dr. Culwick, who communicated this carol in 1904, writes from Dublin as follows :

"I have certainly not heard this for the past forty years. I have written it from memory of my mother's singing. She said when she learned it the recital lasted nearly an hour. There were about ninety verses sung, slowly, by a man with a strong, rough and deep bass voice."

"In Bramley and Stainer's Christmas Carols [Link] there are three verses of words beginning with the fragment here given, but set to modern music, and apparently "arranged" from some traditional source such as that from which the following Surrey version came. L. E. B. [Lucy Broadwood]"

This is a copy of the sheet music and lyrics that were sent to Lucy Broadwood by Dr. Culwick; it was retrieved from the Lucy Broadwood Manuscript Collection (LEB/5/127), Vaughan Williams Memorial Library:

 

BRO-05-204.jpg (319466 bytes)_

Permanent URL: http://www.vwml.org/record/LEB/5/127 ; The filename was BRO-05-204.jpg.

See: Hark, Hark, What News, William Sandys, 1833.

The reference to Hone was to his list of see: Christmas Carols Now Annually Printed which appears in his chapter on "Christmas Carols" in Ancient Mysteries Described.

Journal of the Folk-Song Society, Vol. 2, pp. 126 & 127.

On_Christmas_Night-journal-folk_song-II-p126.jpg (93163 bytes) On_Christmas_Night-journal-folk_song-II-p127.jpg (86590 bytes)

The other verses to "On Christmas night, the joy bells ring" have not been recorded, if any. In the only sheet music that I've seen, three verses of "On Christmas Night All Christians Sing" are used. See On Christmas night the joy-bells ring at John Speller's Web Pages - Christmas Carols.

In the 1935 The Cuddesdon Nativity Play, reference was made to this carol, citing, as its source, "Church and School Hymnal" (London: SPCK, 1926), #305. I also saw a reference in the "revised" edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern.

In 1952, Vaughan Williams used the "Joy Bells" tune in his composition, "Prelude on an Old Carol Tune." It has been frequently recorded, and can be heard on YouTube.

Here are four Broadsides that contain this carol at the Bodleian Library:

Harding B 7(58)-00780-Crop.jpg (410316 bytes)Harding B 7(58) - Edition - Bod19103; see on this website, On Christmas Night - Harding B 7(58) (with notes)
Imprint: Printed and Sold by J. Catnach, 2, Monmouth-Court, 7 Dials, London, between 1813 and 1838.

 

Johnson Ballads 1392A-21130-Crop.jpg (378959 bytes)Johnson Ballads 1392A; Edition - Bod19210; see on this website, On Christmas Night - Johnson Ballads 1392A
Imprint: James Guest, Printer, 93, Steelhouse-Lane, Birmingham, between 1834 and 1879.

 

 

Douce adds. 137(58)-14986-Crop.jpg (459447 bytes)Douce adds. 137(58) - Edition - Bod24329
Imprint: D. Wrighton, Printer, No. 86, Snow-Hill, Birmingham, between 1812 and 1830.

 

 

Firth b.34(29)-17212-Crop.jpg (1394376 bytes)Firth b.34(29) -  Edition - Bod8023
Imprint: Pitts printer wholesale Toy & Marble Warehous [sic] 6, Great st Andrew street 7 dials, London, between 1819 and 1844.

A fifth broadside found at the Bodelein is known as The Batchelar Broadside.

This was one of the 89 carols still annually printed according to William Hone; see: Christmas Carols Now Annually Printed which appears in his chapter on "Christmas Carols" in Ancient Mysteries Described (1823, pp.97-99).

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