The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

She May Be Called A Sovereign Lady

Words: Thomas Ashwell  (c. 1478 – after 1513 (possibly 1527?)), an English composer of the Renaissance

Compare: She May Be Called A Sovereign Lady (Chambers and Sidgwick), with notes.
She May Be Callyd A Souerant Lady (Flügel and Imelmann)

Source: Edith Rickert, Ancient English Christmas Carols: 1400-1700 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1914), p. 22.

Rickert writes: "Printed in a book known as 'Bassus', in the British Museum, K. I. e. I, which contains the bass part of a song-book."

She may be called a sovereign lady,
That is a maid and beareth a baby.

1. A maid peerless hath born God's Son;
    Nature gave place
    When ghostly grace
        Subdued reason.
She may be called a sovereign lady,
That is a maid and beareth a baby.

2. As for beauty or high gentry, she is the flower,
    By God elect,
    For this effect,
        Man to succour.
She may be called a sovereign lady,
That is a maid and beareth a baby.

3. Of virgins queen, lodestar of light,
    Whom to honour
    We ought endeavour
        Us day and night.
She may be called a sovereign lady,
That is a maid and beareth a baby.

Also found in Edward Bliss Reed, ed., Christmas Carols Printed in the 16th Century Including Kele's Christmas Carolles Newly Inprynted. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1932), Plates C-F, pp. 5-8. Text and sheet music. Plates reprinted with the permission of the trustees of the British Museum. Now in the British Library.

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