The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

There Is A Child Born Of Our Blessed Virgin

Alternate Title: Gloria Tibi Domine

For Christmas

Source: William Sandys, Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern (London: Richard Beckley, 1833)

1. There is a Child born of our blessed Virgin;
    I heard a Maid lullaby to sing:
Peace, my dear Child, of thy weeping,
    For thou shalt be our Heavenly King.

Now sing we, and now sing we,
To the Gloria tibi Domine.

2. O Mother! O Mother! your wishes are nought;
It is not for me such carols are wrought;
Such carols were never by woman thought
    To the Gloria tibi Domine. Chorus

3. O my dear Son, why sayest thou so?
Thou art my Son, I have no moe;
When Gabriel begot thee, full of grace,
Thou needest not tell me of this case. Chorus

4. O they will thrust, Mother, my head from my hair,
With a crown of thorns they will me not spare,
And with the sharp spears my heart will tear,
    To the Gloria tibi Domine. Chorus

5. O come you here, Mother, and you shall see
My hands and my feet nailed to the rood tree,
And my feet, Mother, are fastned thereby,
A vile sight, Mother for you to see.

Now sing we, and now sing we,
To the Gloria tibi Domine.
And now sing we more or less,
And welcome be this merry Christmas.

Also found in Joshua Sylvester, A Garland of Christmas Carols, Ancient and Modern (London: John Camden Hotten, 1861):

Singing short stories of the birth of our Saviour as Carol-lullabys to infants appears to have been common in early times. In those ages no occasion seems to have been lost sight of for narrating impressive portions of the story of Christ. Rhyming narratives of the wicket Herod, and the poor little infants, were also general in the nurseries. Portions of these lullabys stacked to hymns, or carols altered to suit the infant comprehension, are now occasionally met with.

Latin choruses to Godly songs or Carols in the vernacular arose from the use of Latin prayers and chants in the churches in those days. Education, prior to the Reformation, being for the most part conducted at or under supervision of the monasteries, Monkish Latin was tolerably familiar to the people.

Note that Hugh Keyte, an editor of The New Oxford Book of Carols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992) believes that "Joshua Sylvester" is a pseudonym for a collaboration between William Sandys (1792-1874) and William Henry Husk (1814-1887). See Appendix 4.

Editor's Note

This is one of several carols found in multiple manuscripts, with various versions, including:

1. Oxford, Balliol College Ms. 354. Versions include:

2. Bodleian Library, Oxford, Laud misc. 683 (SC 798), f. 105v, with a first Line of "A babe is born our blysse to brynge." A copy was posted by Henry Noble MacCracken in Modern Language Notes, Vol. XXIV, No. 7. (Baltimore: November, 1909), p. 225:

3. National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, Porkington 10, ff. 201-202. According to Richard Greene (and also see DIMEV,, this version includes Stanzas 1, 3-8, and 11, alternating with stanzas of the Latin Hymn, "Christe qui lux es et dies," described as a hymn for Compline often sung during Lent 'A Clerk At Oxford' gives a background plus an English translation, Greene gives a number of the differences from "A Babe is born to blis vs brynge." Richard Greene, The Early English Carols (Oxford, 1935), pp. 112-113.

4. Harvard University, Cambridge Mass., H.C.L. 25258.27.5, p. 8, with a first line: "There is a child born to our blessing shall bring." According to DIMEV (, it is the basis of the version found in William Sandys, ed. Christmas Carols, Ancient and Modern. (London: Richard Beckley, 1833), pp. 122-3. The text differs in the first line, but other texts given at DIMEV are found in Sandys' text:

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