The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

The Seven Joys Of Mary

Alternate Title: The Seven Blessings of Mary

For Christmas.

Appalachia, Collected by John Jacob Niles
The musical arrangement published by G. Schirmer is distributed by
Hal Leonard Corporation, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

1. The very first blessing that Mary had,
Hit was the blessing of one:
To think her little Jesus [1]
Was God's only Son,
Was God's only Son.

Refrain:
Come all ye out of the wilderness,
And glory be,
Father, Son, and the Holy Ghose, [2]
Thro' all eternity.

2. The very next Blessing that Mary had,
Hit was the blessing of two:
To think her little Jesus
Could read the Bible through,
Could read the Bible through. Refrain

3. The very next blessing that Mary had,
Hit was the blessing of three:
To think her little Jesus
Could make the blind to see,
Could make the blind to see. Refrain

4. The very next blessing that Mary had,
His was the blessing of four:
To think her little Jesus
Could make the rich to poor, [3]
Could make the rich to poor. Refrain

5. The very next blessing that Mary had,
His was the blessing of five:
To think her little Jesus
Could make the dead to rise, [4]
Could make the dead to rise. Refrain

6. The very next blessing that Mary had,
His was the blessing of six:
To think her little Jesus
Could make the well to sick, [5]
Could make the well to sick. Refrain

7. The very next blessing that Mary had,
His was the blessing of seven:
To think her little Jesus
Had gone away to heaven, [6]
Had gone away to heaven. Refrain

Notes:

1. Or: "To know that her son, Jesus." Return

2. Or: Ghost. Return

3. Or: "Would live to help the poor." Return

4. Or: "Could bring the dead alive. Return

5. Or: "Was her Godly son." Return

6. Or: "Was safe at last in heaven." Return

According to Niles, collected in 1933 in Cherokee County, North Carolina

Neil Lomax, Folk Songs of North America (Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Company, Dolphin Books, 1975):

"The puritans looked upon the old English Christmas customs as Popish or pagan. The Puritan Parliament wiped the holiday off the calendar, and Roundhead soldiers clapped carol singers into prison. Thus, during the early years of the English colonization of America, carol-singing was in public disrepute; it continued only in remote country districts in England, and not until the time of Dickens was it rediscovered by antiquarians and revived in English cities. The Lowland Scots and the Scots-Irish Calvinists had already abandoned Christmas.

Perhaps this explains why so few of the English carols, and none of the ritual dances and ceremonies survived in American folk tradition. Most of Niles' carols seem to come from English collections. Aside from the ballad of Joseph and Mary and the Cherry Tree, the Number Song is the most common folk carol in the United States. Various forms of the Songs of the Twelve have been collected everywhere in the United States, and The Seven Pleasures of Mary, first printed in the fifteenth century, has been found in the Blue Ridge and Smokey Mountains.

Note:

There are numerous carols enumerating the joys of Mary (including five, seven, and 12), including.

  1. Off The 5 Joyes Of Owr Lady (Wright, 1847)

  2. The Ferst Joye As I Zu Telle ("Joyes Fyve") (Sandys, 1833)

  3. The Ferste Joye, As I 3ou Telle (Wright, 1856)
  4. The First Good Joy Our Mary Had (Sandys) (a.k.a. Joyes Seven; in total, 12 Joys - 7 from Sandys, 5 from Husk) (with sheet music and notes)

  5. The Five Joys (Rickert)

  6. The Five Joys of the Virgin (Wright, 1845)

  7. The Seven Joys of Mary - Version 1 (Bramley & Stainer) (with sheet music)

  8. The Seven Joys Of Mary - Version 2 (Shaw and Dearmer) (with sheet music)

  9. The Seven Joys of Mary - RR Terry (with sheet music)

  10. The Seven Joys Of Mary (John Jacob Niles) (with note) [this page]

  11. The Seven Rejoices Of Mary (RR Terry)

  12. The Ten Joys Of Christmas (Sharp) (with sheet music and note)

This is one of many "counting" songs among the hymns and carols of Christmas. See the notes to the Twelve Days of Christmas.

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