The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Tidings True Be Come Anew

For Advent, Christmas

The Salutation Carol of the Angel Gabriel
Based on Luke 1:26-38,
The Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Words: English Traditional, Before 1536, from the Richard Hill Commonplace Book, Balliol MS 354, fol. 229v.

Source: Jessie L. Weston, ed., Old English Carols from the Hill MS. [Balliol College MS. 354] Translated by Jessie L. Weston. (London: David Nutt, 1911), Carol #1, pp. 1-2.

Nowell, Nowell, Nowell, Nowell !
These be the tidings of Gabriel !

1. Tidings true be come anew,
Sent from the Trinitie
By Gabriel unto Nazareth,
A city of Galilee :
A maiden pure,
A Virgin sure,
By her humilitie,
Him hath she borne
On Christmas Morn,
Who is Second in Trinitie !
    Nowell, Nowell, etc.

2. When as he in her presence stood
Before her fair visage,
In fashion meet, demure, and good,
To her he did homage,
And saith : 'Lady,
From Heaven high
That is God's Heritage,
Since He of thee
Now born will be,
I come on His Message.'
    Nowell, Nowell, etc.

3. 'Hail, Mary, news I bear to thee,
Who stand before God's face,
Thou Temple of the Deity,
Thou Maiden full of grace !
Hail ! Virgin pure,
I thee assure,
Within a little space
Thou shalt conceive,
And Him receive,
Who brings thee great solace !'
    Nowell, Nowell, etc.

4. Then spake the Maiden, soft and still,
And answered womanly,
' Whatever my Lord's command and will,
I'll do it, verily :
For Ecce sum
Humilima
Ancilla Domini,
Et Secundum
Verbum tuum,
Fiat mihi !'

Nowell, Nowell, Nowell, Nowell !
These be the tidings of Gabriel.

Editor's Note:

Weston's apparent source was Ewald Flügel, ed., “Liedersammlungen des XVI Jahrhunderts, Besonders Aus Der Zeit Heinrichs VIII. III. 6. Die lieder des Balliol Ms. 354,” in Eugen Einenkel, ed., Anglia - Zeitschrift für englische Philologie enthaltend Beitrage zur Geschlicht der englischen Sprache und Literatur. Band XXVI. (Halle: Max Niemeyer, 1903), pp. 94-285. This work is available at both Internet Archive and Google Books.

See Roman Dyboski, ed. Songs, Carols and Other Miscellaneous Poems from the Balliol MS. 354, Richard Hill’s Commonplace Book. Early English Text Society Extra Series No. CI (London: Published for the Early English Text Society by Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., Ltd., 1907, issued in 1908). Over 103 songs of great variety, including 62 "sacred songs and carols." Available at Internet Archive and Google Books. This carol, "Tydyngis trewe, ther be com newe" is #49, pp. 39-40.

Versions of this carol on this site:

Richard L. Greene gives us 24 Carols of the Annunciation in his The Early English Carols (Oxford, 1935), #234-#257, pp. 166-184.

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