The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

When Christmas Cometh In Apace

For Christmas

Translation of French carol, "A la venue de Noel"
Translator: "R. F. L." [Rev. Dr. Richard Frederick Littledale]

"Described as an "Old Lorraine Carol"
"Original Music, and Words Closely Imitated."

Source: John Mason Neale, ed., St. Margaret's Magazine, Volume 1. (London: Skeffington & Son, 1889), pp. 109-110.

When Christmas cometh in apace.
    Let all rejoice with gladsome mind.
For God's New Covenant of grace
    Is made thereby with all mankind.
        Nowell, Nowell, Nowell, Nowell!

As Lucifer to deep abyss
    Through pride in headlong ruin fell ;
So we, too, sped to doom like his,
    But God's Son ransomed us from hell.
        Nowell, &c.

Within the womb He veiled His light.
    The womb of Maiden, pure from stain;
Till on that happy Christmas night
    She bore Him, with no dole or pain.
        Nowell, &c.

And when was born our God and King,
    An angel brought the shepherds word,
Who would at once their carol sing.
    Straight from their hearts with glad accord.
        Nowell, &c.

And in a little while from thence
    To do Him homage came three kings,
Bringing Him myrrh and frankincense,
    And gold, most prized of earthly things.
        Nowell, &c.

To God they brought their offerings due,
    And when they would return again,
Herod the king bade spies pursue
    Their steps, three days and nights amain.
        Nowell, &c.

A star it was which marked the road.
    As from the east it guided them.
And unto each the path it shewed
    Which led them straight to Bethlehem,
        Nowell, &c.

Then bear we well that road in mind.
    Then tread we, too, that happy way.
For it will lead us on to find
    The place where Mary Mother lay.
        Nowell, &c.

Christ Jesus there, the Lord most sweet,
    They saw, the Maid who bore Him, too,
Saw Him who framed the world complete,
    And sinners brought to life anew.
        Nowell, &c.

He showed His love beyond all price,
    When the hard Cross for us He bore ;
God bring us all to Paradise,
    God, whom the worlds He made adore.
        Nowell, &c.

Then pray we Him with one accord.
    When comes the last and greatest Day,
And all the world must meet its Lord,
    We none of us be cast away.
        Nowell, &c.

Amen. Nowell, Nowell, Nowell,
    I cannot choose but lift the strain.
For I am fain to sing Nowell,
    And greet my Lord with its refrain:
        Nowell, Nowell, Nowell, Nowell!

Sheet Music to an "Old Lorraine Carol"

Sheet Music, French and English Lyrics

old lorraine carol-p109-st mar mag-1.jpg (57957 bytes) old lorraine carol-p110-st mar mag-1.jpg (29736 bytes)


The translator is identified only by the initials "R. F. L." Bearing in mind that the editor of St. Margaret's Magazine was Rev. John Mason Neale, it is likely that the translator was his close friend and collaborator, Rev. Richard Frederick Littledale, who edited Carols for Christmas and other Seasons (1863) and co-edited The People's Hymnal (1867), together with numerous other books and pamphlets.

We learn from Dr Julian's Dictionary of Hymnology that Dr. Littledale also published using the following initials:

A. L. P., i.e., A London Priest.
B., i.e., An initial of a former address.
B. T., i.e., The initials of a former address.
D. L., i.e. Dr. Littledale.
F., i.e., Frederick.
F. R., i.e., Frederick Richard.
L., i.e., Littledale.
P. C. E., i.e., Priest of the Church of England.
P. P. Bk., i.e., Priest's Prayer Book.

For biographical notes see Richard Frederick Littledale (Wikipedia) and Richard Frederick Littledale (The Hymnary, citing Dr. Julian). While The People's Hymnal is widely available, we've been unable to locate any copies of Carols for Christmas and other Seasons.

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