The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

The Waits' Song

English Folk Carol, 16th - 18th Century
Notes On The Carol

Alternate Titles:  The Bellman's Song, Version 1 (The Wassail Page) and Version 2 (Oxford Book of Carols), and The Moon Shines Bright (Sandys)

Source: Henry Ramsden Bramley and John Stainer, Christmas Carols New and Old
(London: Novello, Ewer & Co., 1871), Carol #24, "The Waits' Song," p. 52.

Tune: Traditional English
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF / XML

1. The moon shines bright and the stars give light,
A little before the day:
Our mighty Lord He looked on us,
And bade us awake and pray.

2. Awake, awake, good people all
Awake, and you shall hear
The Lord our God died on the Cross
For us He loved so dear

3. O fair, O fair Jerusalem,
When shall I come to thee ?
When shall my sorrows have an end,
Thy joy that I may see ?

4. The fields were green as green could be,
When from His glorious seat,
Our blessed Father watered us,
With His heavenly dew so sweet.

5. And for the saving of our souls
Christ died upon the Cross,
We ne'er shall do for Jesus Christ
As He hath done for us.

6. The life of man is but a span,
And cut down in its flower,
We're here to-day, to-morrow gone,
The creatures of an hour.

7. Instruct and teach your children well,
The while that you are here;
It will be better for your soul,
When your corpse lies on the bier.

8.To-day you may be alive and well,
Worth many a thousand pound;
To-morrow dead and cold as clay,
Your corpse laid underground.

9. With one turf at thine head, O man,
And another at thy feet;
Thy good deeds and thy bad, O man,
Will all together meet.

10. My song is done, I must he gone,
I can stay no longer here;
God bless you all, both great and small,
And send you a joyful new year?

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Note: For additional information on Waits, see: The Rise of Secular Music in the Late Middle Ages and The Waits from William Chappell, Popular Music (1859).

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