The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Welcome Yule

A Christmas Carol

For Christmas

Fifteenth Century

Source: Edith Rickert, Ancient English Christmas Carols: 1400-1700 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1914), Page #121

Burden:
Welcome Yule, thou merry man,
In worship of this holy day.

1. Welcome be thou, Heaven-King,
Welcome born in one morning,
Welcome for whom we shall sing,
'Welcome Yule!'

2. Welcome be ye, Stephen and John,
Welcome Innocents every one,
Welcome Thomas Martyr one,
Welcome Yule.

3. Welcome be ye, good New Year,
Welcome, Twelfth day both in fere,1
Welcome, saintès lef2 and dear,
Welcome Yule.

4. Welcome be you, Candlemas,
Welcome be you, Queen of Bliss,
Welcome both to more and less,3
Welcome Yule.

5. Welcome be you that are here,
Welcome all, and make good cheer;
Welcome all, another year,
Welcome Yule.

Notes:

1. Company. Return

2. As from Bullen. Lef = Loved. Hone gives: Saints loved. Return

3. Great and small. Alternate line: "Welcome to thee, more and less." Return

Sheet Music from Martin Shaw and Percy Dearmer, The English Carol Book, Second Series (London: A. R. Mowbray & Co., Ltd., 1913), Carol #52
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Note from Dr. Rickert:

    Nunc gaudet Ecclesia. The first two carols in this group [the other being Eia, Martyr Stephane, page 122] name the Saints days kept at Christmas. Of these St. Stephen's Day, now Boxing Day, seems to have been most celebrated. Cf. p. 221-222 [Now Christmas Draweth Near], where Stephen is already invoked in connection with terms that suggest the custom of asking for "boxes."

Editor's Note:

See: Hymns to St Stephen

Nunc Gaudet EcclesiaLeft: Illustration from Rickert

Copies of this carol on this web site:

Also found in A. H. Bullen, A Christmas Garland (London: John C. Nimmo, 1885), p. 2, who notes "Printed in Ritson's Ancient Songs, Sandys' Carols, etc. (from Sloane MS, 2593, temp. Henry VI."

Also found in Joshua Sylvester, A Garland of Christmas Carols, Ancient and Modern (London: John Camden Hotten, 1861)

This early Carol (temp. Henry VI.) is given by Ritson in his "Ancient Songs and Ballads," with its mixture of Scriptural allusions and invitations to worldly enjoyment, was, doubtless, one of those sung by the tribe of professional minstrels during the several periods of feasting into which the day of Yule was divided. It was thought at first that it could scarcely be classed as religious, yet was that element found so predominant that it has been included in this part.

Hugh Keyte, an editor of The New Oxford Book of Carols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992) believes that "Joshua Sylvestre" is a pseudonym for a collaboration between William Sandys (1792-1874) and William Henry Husk (1814-1887). See Appendix 4.

Husk, William Henry, Songs of the Nativity. London: John Camden Hotten, 1868.

Yule, it is almost needless to observe, is the Anglo-Saxon name for Christmas. This carol is found in a manuscript of the time of Henry VI. preserved in the British Museum, but there is no doubt that the composition is of much earlier date.

The enumeration of the various festivals which occur during the period of Yule-tide, which lasted until Candlemas day, is found in other carols beside the present. Thomas the Martyr mentioned in the second stanza was Thomas a Becket, or, as he was more commonly styled, St. Thomas of Canterbury, whose festival was celebrated on the 29th of December.

Verse 3 and notes 1 and 3 from Hone, and not found in Rickert. Also found in Sylvester.

Also found in Joseph Ritson, Ancient Songs and Ballads From The Reign of King Henry the Second To The Revolution. 1790. W. Carew Hazlitt, ed., Third Edition. London: Reeves And Turner, 1877. Repr. Detroit, MI: Singing Tree Press, 1968, pp. 120-21.

    Ritson also notes that the source is the Sloane MS. No. 2593. The version he gives is the same as given above, although the spelling is more archaic. He gives no additional notes.

Also found in Henry Vizetelly, Christmas With The Poets (London: David Bogue, 1851).

    Vizetelly also notes that Yule is the Anglo-Saxon for Christmas. He gives the source as the Sloane MSS, No. 2593, fol. 79, ro, and gives the second line of the first verse as:

    Welcome, born on this morning.

Note:

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