The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Out Of Your Sleep Arise

Alternate Titles: Arise And Wake and
Out Of Your Sleep Arise and Wake.

For Christmas

15th Century
From the Selden Manuscript, MS Arch. Selden B. 26,
Bodleian Library, Oxford

Compare: Out Of Youre Slepe Arise And Wake (Chambers & Sidgwick)

Source: Edith Rickert, Ancient English Christmas Carols: 1400-1700 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1914), pp. 165-6.

MIDI / Noteworthy Composer
Sheet music available at RoDeby Music Company

Nowel, Nowel, Nowel
Nowel, Nowel, Nowel

1. Out of your sleep arise and wake,
For God mankind now hath ytake [taken]
All of a maid without any make [equal];
Of all women she beareth the bell.1 Burden

2. And through a maiden fair and wise,
Now man is made of full great price;
Now angels kneel to man's service,
And at this time all this befell. Burden

3. Now man is brighter than the sun;
Now man in heaven on high shall wone [dwell];
Blessed be God, this game is begun
And His mother Empress of Hell. Burden

4. Who'er was thrall, now is he free;
Whoe'er was small, now great is she;
Now shall God judge both thee and me
Unto His bliss if we do well. Burden

5. Now man may (un)-to heaven wend;
Now heaven and earth to Him they bend;
He that was foe now is our friend;
This is no nay that I you tell.2 Burden

6. Now blessed Brother grant us grace
At dooms day to see Thy face,
And in Thy court to have a place,
That we may there sing Nowel. Burden


1. In other versions, the final two words are repeated; there is no burden. The phrase "beareth the bell" refers to being in a leadership position or receiving a prize, although the precise origin of the phrase is in dispute. Return

2. "no nay" as in "no idle tale." Return

Additional Notes from Rev. Terry:

Sheet Music from Richard Runciman Terry, Two Hundred Folk Carols (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Limited, 1933), Carol #186, pp.30-31.

186a-Nowel_Out.jpg (102597 bytes) 186b-Nowel_Out.jpg (90827 bytes)

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 #17, pp. 34-35.

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Editor's Note:

Also found in Richard Greene, ed., A Selection of English Carols (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1962),#11, pp. 64-65.

Also found in Richard Runciman Terry, Two Hundred Folk Carols (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Limited, 1933), Carol #186, pp. 30-31, who cites his source of words and music from the Selden MS. (Selden MS. B.26 f.14v.), Bodleian Library, Oxford.

The Selden Manuscript was one of the sources for A Medieval Carol Book by Rev. Terry. Scans of the manuscript pages are on-line at the Bodleian Library; see Selden MS B26 (opens in a new window at an exterior site).

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