The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

The Truth Sent From Above

For Christmas
Sometimes referred to as "The Shropshire Carol"

Words and Music: English Traditional

Compare: The Truth Sent From Above (from A Good Christmas Box)

Source: Cecil J. Sharp, English Folk-Carols (London: Novello & Co., Ltd., 1911), pp. 46-7.

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,
That God at first did man create
The next thing, which to you I tell,
Woman was made with him to dwell.

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

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

5. Thus we were heirs to endless woes,
Till God the Lord did interpose
For so a promise soon did run
That He’d redeem us with a Son.

6. And at this season of the year
Our blest Redeemer did appear
He here did live, and here did preach,
And many thousands He did teach.

7. Thus He in love to us behaved,
To show us how we must be saved
And if you want to know the way
Be pleased to hear what He did say.

8. Go preach the Gospel new, He said,
To all the nations that are made
And he that does believe in me,
From all his sins I’ll set him free.

9. God grant to all within this place
True saving faith—that special grace,
Which to His people doth belong—
And thus I close my Christmas song.

Sheet Music From Sharp, English Folk-Carols (1911)

Notes from Sharp:

Sung by Mr. Seth Vandrell and Mr. Samuel Bradley of Donninglon Wood, Shropshire.

This carol was sung to me by the two singers in unison, Mr. Vandrell refreshing his memory by referring to a small book of carols, printed locally, from which the words in the text have been transcribed. I have, however, omitted seven stanzas between the eighth and the last. "The Truth" is printed in A Good Christmas Box, and is included in Hone’s list [Christmas Carols now annually Printed, 1823].

A version of this carol to a different tune and with four stanzas only of the words, noted by Dr. Vaughan Williams at King’s Pyon, is printed in The Folk-Song Society’s Journal (IV, p. 17). For a variant of the tune see "There is a Fountain" in the same publication (IV, p. 21).

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.

For the version from Herefordshire collected by Mrs. Emma Leather, and used by R. Vaughan Williams in Eight Traditional English Carols (1919), see: The Truth Sent From Above - R. Vaughan Williams.

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. The verses were 1, 2, 5, 6, 7 from A Good Christmas Box. There was an unfortunate juxtaposition of the last line of the second verse and the first line of the third verse (the original fifth verse). 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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