The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Toll! Toll! Because There Ends To-night

For Christmas Eve

Words: Rev. John Mason Neale (1818-1866) in Carols for Christmastide (London, 1853).
Neale wrote: "Probably latter half of the 15th century. Words original."

Music: Psallat scholarum concio, Rev. Thomas Helmore, Piae Cantiones, 1582;
neither of these sources contained a musical score.
However, a copy of the score was found in Helmore's
The Condensed Vocal Parts (1854).

Source: John Mason Neale and Thomas Helmore, eds., Carols for Christmas-tide (London: Novello, 1853) in Collected Hymns, Sequences and Carols (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1914), p. 289. Only text was available in Collected Hymns; no music was included.

1. Toll! toll! because there ends to-night,
    An Empire old and vast:
An Empire of unquestion’d right
    O’er present and o’er past.
                                Toll!
Stretching wide from East to West,
Ruling over every breast,
    Each nation, tongue and caste.

2. Toll! toll! because a monarch dies,
    Whose tyrant statutes ran
From polar snows to tropic skies,
    From Greenland to Japan:
                                Toll!
Crowded cities, lonely glens,
Oceans, mountains, shores and fens,
    All own’d him Lord of man.

3. Toll! toll! because that monarch fought
    Right fiercely for his own;
And utmost craft and valour brought
    Before he was o’erthrown:
                                Toll!
He the Lord, and man the slave:
His the kingdom of the grave,
    And all its dim unknown.

4. Joy! joy! because a Babe is born,
    Who, after many a toil,
The scorner’s pride shall laugh to scorn,
    And work the Foiler’s foil:
                                Toll!
God, as Man, the earth hath trod:
Therefore man shall be as God,
    And reap the Spoiler’s spoil.

Sheet Music from John Mason Neale and Thomas Helmore, Carols for Christmas-tide: The Condensed Vocal Parts (London: Novello, 1854), pp. 41-44.

Toll_Toll-Cond_Vocals-01.jpg (102949 bytes) Toll_Toll-Cond_Vocals-02.jpg (97389 bytes) Toll_Toll-Cond_Vocals-03.jpg (97104 bytes) Toll_Toll-Cond_Vocals-04.jpg (96984 bytes)

Also found in: George Radcliffe Woodward, ed., Songs of Syon (London: Schott & Co., Third Edition, 1908), # 19.

Note From Rev. Neale.

In the Preface to the First Edition, Rev. Neale wrote that only Good King Wenceslas and Toll! Toll! are original.

In the Collected Hymns, p. 314, there is this note to Toll! Toll!:

It is a custom at Dewsbory, in Yorkshire, to toll the passing bell on Christmas Eve at midnight, for one hour. This is called The Devil's Knell, and is intended to signify that when "Christ was born, the Devil died" : a striking though exaggerated way of representing the truth that the birth of our Lord gave the death-blow to the Empire of Satan.

There is additional information concerning this carol and the bell at Dewsbory at John Speller's Web Pages - English Christmas Carols; see: Toll! Toll! Because There Ends Tonight.

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