The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Young And Old Must Raise The Lay

For Christmas

Words: Rev. John Mason Neale, ca. 1855
Version 1
See: Additional Christmas Carols & Hymns of John Mason Neale

Music: Tempus adest floridum, a 13th Century spring carol that was adapted by Rev. Thomas Helmore from Piae Cantiones, 1582.

Source: The Churchman's Companion. Part XCVII. Vol. XVII. (London: Joseph Masters, January, 1855), pp. 44-45.


1. Young and old must raise the lay
    That their hearts engages;
For the Child is born to-day,
    Who is King of Ages:
For the God, by all adored,
    Comes to His elected;
For the Babe that is the Lord,
    Hastes to be rejected.

2. If the purple proves the King,
    Where is goodly raiment?
If man needs his ransoming,
    Who shall make the payment?
For the purple here is grass;
    For the throne, the manger:
For the courtiers, ox and ass
    Bow before the stranger.

3. Joshua hastes to meet his foes,
    Boastful and defiant;
David to his brethren goes,
    And shall slay the giant:
Help is nigh to change our fate;
    Help we may rely on;
Solomon, with royal state,
    Shall be crowned in Gihon.1

4. Through the desert as we go,
    Sorrowful and fearing,
From the Rock the waters flow,
    That shall work our cheering:
Manna, wherewith man is fed,
    Comes for our Salvation ;
Born in Bethlehem, "House of Bread,"
    By interpretation.

5. Young and old must raise the lay
    That their hearts engages;
For the Child is born to-day,
    Who is King of Ages:
Young and old their deeds so frame,
    That, as He came hither,
They, when He their lives shall claim,
    May to Him go thither.


1. Gihon is the name of a spring near Jerusalem, where Solomon was anointed to succeed David. Return

Editor's Note.

A note that accompanied the above text:

The following Carol, which is imitated from the Spirituale Rosetum of John Mauburn, was written to the melody of No. 11, of Helmore and Neale's Carols for Christmas-tide, for a parish in which circumstances did not permit the original words to be sung.

The carol from Mauburn's Spirituale Rosetum was Heu! quid jaces stabulo, which was an excerpt from a longer carol, Eia mea anima. There are notes on both of those pages concerning the backgrounds, together with such translations that we have found.

Carol No. 11 was Good King Wenceslas, and its tune was Tempus adest floridum ("Spring has unwrapped her flowers"), a 13th Century spring carol that was adapted by Rev. Thomas Helmore from Piae Cantiones, 1582.

This carol has an interesting history. This publication, in 1855, appears to be the first. Subsequently, however, Rev. Neale changed a few of the words, and then published it in the St. Margaret's Hymnal, a privately printed hymnal for use of the Sisterhood of St. Margaret at East Grinstead (founded in 1854). There are no copies scanned that I've found to date (Dec. 2017), but that version of the carol was reproduced in the 1914 edition of Neale's works, Colleted Hymns, Sequences and Carols of John Mason Neale, edited by one of his daughters and one of the members of the Sisterhood. The earliest published date for this hymnal is 1875, but it was certainly compiled by Rev. Neale much earlier than that date. See: Young And Old Must Raise The Lay-1875. This would actually be the second version.

The third version appears in Neale's Sequences, Hymns, and Other Ecclesiastical Verses (1866). Although the date is earlier than the publication of the St. Margaret's Hymnal, Sequences was the last volume edited by Neale before his death, which occurred a few weeks after he wrote the Preface and while the book was still at the printer. There is only a single word that is different between these two versions. See: Young And Old Must Raise The Lay-1866.

This carol has reproduced several times, and, as one would expect, modified. Two copies occur in the magnum opus of Charles Hutchens, Carols Old and Carols New (1914). One is in 8 verses of 4 lines (omitting verse 3 above) while the other reproduces the entire carol, 5 verses of 8 lines. This latter version is based on the version from the St. Margaret's Hymnal, with the exception of a single word (Verse 1, Line 8: "Comes to be rejected."). See: Young And Old Must Raise The Lay-Hutchins.

Finally, the following text appeared in an advertisement in The Musical Times and Singing Class Circular, Volume 13, December 1, 1867, p. 234:

Dr. Gauntlett's Christmas Carols. -- "Good Christians all awake," words by Dr. Neale. "Young and Old must raise the lay," words by Dr. Neale. "O come all ye faithful." Toned paper, music and words, 4to, 2d. each.: words, 8vo, 2s per 100. Reduction for quantities. The three Carols, post free, 6d., with List of Church Music from Church Music Press, 23 Colville-road, W., and of Joseph Masters, Bond-street.

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