The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Thie Conceptioun of Christ

For Christmas

Words and Music: Scottish Traditional

Source: John Wedderburn, A Compendious Book of Godly and Spiritual Songs Commonly Known as 'The Gude and Godlie Ballatis.' Reprinted from the Edition of 1567, A. F. Mitchell, ed. (Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1897), p. 83-85.

Lat vs reioyis and sing.
And pryse that mychtie King,
Quhilk send his Sone of a Virgin bricht.
La Lay La.

And on him tuke our vylde '' nature,
Our deidlie woundis to cure,
Mankynd to hald in richt.
La Lay La.

Sanct Luc wrytis in his Gospell,
God send his Angell Gabriell,
Unto that Virgin but defame,
La Lay La.

For to fulfill the Prophesie,
Was spousit with Josaph fre ;
Marie scho had to name.
La Lay La.

Thir vvordis to hir he did reheirs,
Haill Marie full of grace,
The Lord God is with the.
La Lay La.

Thow blissit Virgin mylde,
Thow sail consaue ane Chylde,
The peple redeme sail he.
La Lay La.

Quhais power and greit mycht
Sail be in Goddis sycht,
Quhilk from the Father of mycht is send.
La Lay La.

Jesus his name ze call,
Quhilk salbe Prince ouer all,
His Kingdome sail haif nane end.
La Lay La.

Than spak that Virgin fre,
Behald how sail this be,
Seeing I knaw na man ?
La Lay La.

Than said the Angell chaist.
Be the power of the haly Gaist,
Quhilk all thing wirk he can.
La Lay La.

Elizabeth, thy cousing also.
Sax monethis with childe can go,
At quhais byrth, greit Joy sail be.
La Lay La.

Call him Johne, sayis the Angell bricht,
Quhilk is send be Goddis micht,
The Lordis way prepare sail he.
La Lay La.

FINIS.

Note:

The editor of this volume, A. F. Mitchell, had this note concerning this song at pp. 254-255:

Pp. 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 77, 79, 82, 83.—The "Ballatis" and "Carrells" on these pages I have not, save in two or three instances, succeeded in tracing to German or Danish sources; but I am not yet quite without hope that some younger and more patient investigator may be able to trace several more of them. They evidently contain a second cycle of Christmas and Easter hymns. Several of the former seem to me to bear affinity to the stanza and general contents of the hymns of the Bohemian Weisse and Horn on the birth of Christ, as "We suld into remembrance," "The Grace of God appeiris now," and especially " Now lat vs sing with joy and myrth." The carol " Hay Zule [Zule],1 now sing and mak myrth," changed in the three later editions of the book into " Hay, let us sing and mak greit myrth," has considerable resemblance to a hymn in the Leipsig 'Psalmen und Geistliche Lieder' of 1537, though not exactly in the same stanza:—

"Lobt Gott O lieben Christen
Singet ihm mit Psalmisten
     ein new fr
öhlich lied;
Macht Gott mitt uns
     einen ewigen fried.

Der Son Gottes ist nun kommen
Hat unser fleisch angenommen
Ist hie erschienen
Uns zu vers
öhnen
und ewige clarbeit zu verdienen.

Er ist kommen uns zu hailen
und sein gut mit uns zu thailen,
Uns zu entbinden
Von allen stinden
Wie uns sein Engel fr
öhlich verkunden."

Ritson (vol. i. p. 140) gives a Christmas carol with the title and refrain, "Wolcum Yol, wolcum Yol." In Stationers' Hall Register, under the years 1562-63, is the following entry: " Christenmas Carrols auctorysshed by my Lord of London," f. 86b.

"Of thingis twa, I pray thé, Lord," is founded on Agur's prayer in Proverbs, ch. xxx. vv. 7, 8, 9, and bears considerable resemblance to vv. 1, 3, 4, 5 of a German hymn also founded on these verses, and beginning, "Zwey ding, O Herr, ich bitt von dir," which is No. 466 in Wackernagel's 'Kirchenlied' of 1841; but unless that hymn can be traced considerably farther back than he has done, it must be regarded as posterior to the Scotch.

"Quha can discriue or put in write," "Gif ze haif rissin from deide agane," and " Quha suld my mellodie amend," may possibly be original—at least several poems in that five-lined stanza are found in other Scottish poets of that time. (See religious poems in Bannatyne MS.)

The carol on the conception of Christ, " Lat vs reioyis and sing," is probably modelled on some old secular " ballate." "La, la, la," is the refrain of one of the ballads given by Ritson. Line 1, "Lat vs," &c., so read C. and D. as well as A., but B. has Let.

Footnote 1. The second Zule is found in the " Tabill" of contents, and is needed to complete the number of feet in the line.

Key to Notes:

The Letters, A, B, C, and D, refer to editions of the main work, A Compendious Book, as follows:

A. 1567
B. 1578
C. 1600
D. 1621

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