The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Our Blessed Lady's Lullaby

By Richard Verstegen
(Also Richard Rowlands)

From "Odes," 1601.

Source: Arthur Symons, ed., A Pageant of Elizabethan Poetry, Poem #305, "Our Blessed Lady's Lullaby," pp. 307-312.

Upon my lap my Sovereign sits,
And sucks upon my breast;
Meanwhile his love sustains my life,
And gives my body rest.

Sing, lullaby, my little boy,
Sing, lullaby, my lives joy.

When thou hast taken thy repast,
Repose, my babe, on me.
So may thy mother and thy nurse,
Thy cradle also be.

Sing, lullaby, my little boy,
Sing, lullaby, my lives joy.

I grieve that duty doth not work
All that my wishing would,
Because I would not be to thee
But in the best I should.

Sing, lullaby, my little boy,
Sing, lullaby, my lives joy.

Yet as I am and as I may,
I must and will be thine,
Though all too little for thyself
Vouchsafing to be mine.

Sing, lullaby, my little boy,
Sing, lullaby, my lives joy.

My wits, my words, my deeds, my thoughts,
And else what is in me,
I rather will not wish to use,
If not in serving thee.

Sing, lullaby, my little boy,
Sing, lullaby, my lives joy.

My babe, my bliss, my child, my choice,
My fruit, my flower, and bud,
My Jesus, and my only joy,
The sum of all my good.

Sing, lullaby, my little boy,
Sing, lullaby, my lives joy.

My sweetness, and the sweetest most
That heaven could earth deliver,
Soul of my love, spirit of my life,
Abide with me for ever.

Sing, lullaby, my little boy,
Sing, lullaby, my lives joy.

Live still with me, and be my love,
And death will me refrain,
Unless thou let me die with thee,
To live with thee again.

Sing, lullaby, my little boy,
Sing, lullaby, my lives joy.

Leave now to wail, thou luckless wight
That wrought'st thy race's woe,
Redress is found, and foiled is
Thy fruit-alluring foe.

Sing, lullaby, my little boy,
Sing, lullaby, my lives joy.

The fruit of death from Paradise
Made thee exiled mourn;
My fruit of life to Paradise
Makes joyful thy return.

Sing, lullaby, my little boy,
Sing, lullaby, my lives joy.

Grow up, good fruit, be nourished by
These fountains two of me,
That only flow with maiden's milk,
The only meat for thee.

Sing, lullaby, my little boy,
Sing, lullaby, my lives joy.

The earth is now a heaven become,
And this base bower of mine,
A princely palace unto me,
My son doth make to shine.

Sing, lullaby, my little boy,
Sing, lullaby, my lives joy.

His sight gives clearness to my sight,
When waking I him see,
And sleeping, his mild countenance
Gives favour unto me.

Sing, lullaby, my little boy,
Sing, lullaby, my lives joy.

When I him in mine arms embrace,
I feel my heart embraced,
Even by the inward grace of his,
Which he in me hath placed.

Sing, lullaby, my little boy,
Sing, lullaby, my lives joy.

And when I kiss his loving lips,
Then his sweet-smelling breath
Doth yield a savour to my soul,
That feeds love, hope, and faith.

Sing, lullaby, my little boy,
Sing, lullaby, my lives joy.

The shepherds left their keeping sheep,
For joy to see my lamb;
How may I more rejoice to see
Myself to be the dam.

Sing, lullaby, my little boy,
Sing, lullaby, my lives joy.

Three kings their treasures hither brought
Of incense, myrrh, and gold;
The heaven s treasure and the king
That here they might behold.

Sing, lullaby, my little boy,
Sing, lullaby, my lives joy.

One sort an angel did direct,
A star did guide the other,
And all the fairest son to see
That ever had a mother.

Sing, lullaby, my little boy,
Sing, lullaby, my lives joy.

This sight I see, this child I have,
This infant I embrace,
O endless comfort of the earth,
And heaven's eternal grace.

Sing, lullaby, my little boy,
Sing, lullaby, my lives joy.

Thee sanctity herself doth serve,
Thee goodness doth attend,
Thee blessedness doth wait upon,
And virtues all commend.

Sing, lullaby, my little boy,
Sing, lullaby, my lives joy.

Great kings and prophets wished have
To see that I possess,
Yet wish I never thee to see,
If not i n thankfulness.

Sing, lullaby, my little boy,
Sing, lullaby, my lives joy.

Let heaven and earth, and saints and men,
Assistance give to me,
That all their most occurring aid
Augment my thanks to thee.

Sing, lullaby, my little boy,
Sing, lullaby, my lives joy.

And let the ensuing blessed race,
Thou wilt succeeding raise,
Join all their praises unto mine,
To multiply thy praise.

Sing, lullaby, my little boy,
Sing, lullaby, my lives joy.

And take my service well in worth,
And Joseph s here with me,
Who of my husband bears the name,
Thy servant for to be.

Sing, lullaby, my little boy,
Sing, lullaby, my lives joy.

Note:

An excerpt from this poem has been set to music for a Christmas Carol: Our Blessed Lady's Lullaby.

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