The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

The Truth Sent From Above

For Christmas

Sometimes referred to as "The Herefordshire Carol"

Words and Music: English Traditional
Collected by E. M. Williams from
Mr. W. Jenkins, Kings Pyon, Herefordshire, July, 1909.

Music Noted by R. Vaughan Williams (Dorian mode)
Meter: 88 88

Source: Ella M. Leather, Lucy E. Broadwood, A. G. Gilchrist, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Frances Tolmie and Cecil J. Sharp, eds., "Carols from Herefordshire," Journal of the Folk-Song Society, Vol. 4, No. 14 (June, 1910), pp. 3-51. Published by: English Folk Dance + Song Society. Article Stable URL:

Carol #5. "The Truth Sent From Above," p. 17.

1. This is the truth sent from above, 
The truth of God, the God of love; 
Therefore don’t turn me from your door, 
But hearken all both rich and poor.

2. The first thing which I do relate, 
Is That God did man create
The next thing which to you I tell, 
Woman was made with man to dwell.

3. Then after this was God’s own choice 
To place them both in Paradise, 
There to remain from evil free 
Except they eat of such a tree.

4. But they did eat, which was a sin, 
And thus their ruin did begin — 
Ruin'd themselves, both you and me, 
And all of their posterity.

5. Thus we were as* ? to endless woes, 
Till God the Lord did interpose 
And so a promise soon did run 
That He would redeem us by His Son.

Footnote: * ?heirs.

Notes from the Journal of the Folk-Song Society, p. 17

"This is one of the carols "now annually published" according to Hone (1823). For references to similar tunes see notes to "The Man that lives" [pp. 15-16] in this Journal." L.E.B.

Editor's Note: For Hone's list, see Christmas Carols now annually Printed.

"The following Welsh hymn-tune "Dorcas" seems to be a more rambling and florid form of the above carol-tune, possibly adapted to a repeating refrain. I have substituted notation of half the value, that the rhythm may be more easily grasped." - A.G.G.

Sheet Music from the Journal of the Folk-Song Society, Vol. 4, No. 14 (June, 1910), pp. 17-18.

JFSS-IV-14-17.gif (33920 bytes) JFSS-IV-14-18.gif (35183 bytes)

They also wrote that for a variant of the tune see "There is a Fountain" in the JFSS IV, pp. 21-22.

JFSS-IV-14-21.gif (33271 bytes) JFSS-IV-14-22.gif (35376 bytes)

It was noted that although this song is about the Crucifixion, it was a favorite of Herefordshire singers during the Christmas-tide. See: There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood-Cowper. It was not uncommon for carols to deal with all of Christ's life, including his death and resurrection, in carols sung during the Christmas-tide.

Editor's Notes:

The text collected from Mr. Jenkins was used by R. Vaughan Williams in his Eight Traditional English Carols, #6, pp. 22-23, except for two differences:

Sheet Music from R. Vaughan Williams, Eight Traditional English Carols (London: Stainer & Bell, 1919), #6, The Truth Sent From Above, pp. 22-23.

Truth_Sent_From_Above-RVW-8_Trad_Eng_Crls-6_22-1919.jpg (104490 bytes) Truth_Sent_From_Above-RVW-8_Trad_Eng_Crls-6_23-1919.jpg (122762 bytes)

Notes by Ralph Vaughan Williams in Eight Traditional English Carols.

Melody and text included by kind permission of Mrs. Leather.

Harmonization adapted from “Fantasia on Christmas Carols” by kind permission of the publishers, Messrs Stainer & Bell.

For notes on the text and melody see Journal of the Folk-song Society, Vol. IV, p. 17.

For another tune and a slightly different version of text see Sharp English Folk-Carols, XVIII. [The Truth Sent From Above]

Melody and Text form Mr. W. Jenkins, Kings Pyon, Herefordshire.

S&B 2151.

Editor's Notes:

There was a lengthy discussion of similar tunes in the JFSS article. See: The Truth Sent From Above - JFSS Update.

The "Mrs. Leather" that Dr. Williams refers to is E. M. [Ella Mary] Leather, listed as a co-editor of the JFSS article, and who will become his collaborator on Twelve Traditional Carols from Herefordshire (London: Stainer & Bell, 1920).

Sixteen verses are found in the version printed in A Good Christmas Box (1847): The Truth Sent From Above, which also contains the complete notes for this carol.

There is another version, consisting of five verses, which appeared in the Oxford Book of Carols, and was later incorporated into 100 Carols for Choirs. See: The Truth from Above - Oxford Book of Carols.

For the texts from two Broadsides that I've found, see: This Is The Truth - Broadside Comparisons.

For a discussion of similar tunes, see The Truth Sent From Above - JFSS Update.

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