The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Christmas Carols now annually Printed

Source: William Hone, Ancient Mysteries Described (1823)

"Carols begin to be spoken of as not belonging to this century* and yet no one, that I am aware of, has attempted a collection of these fugitives. As the carols now printed will at no distant period become obsolete, an alphabetical list of those in my possession is subjoined. It excludes all that are disused at the present time, nor does it contain any of the numerous compositions printed by religious societies under the denomination of Carols.

Christmas Carols now annually Printed

1. A Glorious Star From Heav'n Appeared

2. A Jolly Wassel-Bowl.

3. A Virgin Most Pure As The Prophets Did Tell

4. All Christians pray you now attend.

5. All Englishmen I pray you now attend.

6. All Hail The Ever Glad'ning Morn

7. All hail the morn! loud anthems raise.

Birmingham Ballad Printers:
Henry Wadsworth (1814-1818) Broadside: "The Universal King (A New Christmas Carol) (All hail the morn! Loud anthems raise)."

From 1802 until 1812 Wadsworth was listed at 88 Lichfield Street as a bookseller only. By 1814 he was a printer also, and had moved to 71 Lichfield Street, where he remained until 1817. One sheet (no.26, below) bears this imprint: 'Printed and sold Wholesale and Retail by H. Wadsworth, 71, Lichfield-street, Birmingham: where Shopkeepers and Travellers will find the greatest variety, and at the lowest price'. From 1817-18 Wadsworth was in Moor Street, at nos 12 and 90.

8. All honour, glory, might, and power.

This phrase occurs as the third line of the 15th verse of hymn #42. Let All That Are To Mirth Inclined. The verse begins "Did in melodious manner sing." Whether or not a portion of this verse, together with the rest of the carol, themselves constitute a separate carol is an open question at this time.

Hymn 42 is one of a large family of carol variants which includes "The Sinner's Redemption" (first line: "All you that are to mirth inclin'd"), which is the next carol on this list. This phrase also occurs in the last stanza of O God! O Father, Kind and Best!

9. All You That Are To Mirth Inclined.

10. All you that live must learn to die.

Birmingham Ballad Printers:
Henry Wadsworth (1814-1818) Broadside: "A New Carol on the Shortness of Life (All you that live must learn to die)"

11. Arise, And Hail The Sacred Day.

12. As I Pass'd By A River Side [The Carnal and the Crane]

13. As I Sat On A Sunny Bank.

14. As It Fell Out One May Morning.

15. As It Fell Out Upon A Day, Rich Dives Made a Feast [Dives and Lazarus]

16. Attend, good people, now I pray.

17. Away, Dark Thoughts, Awake My Joys

18. Behold The Grace Appears.

19. Christians Awake Salute The Happy Morn.

20. Christmas Is Now Drawing Near At Hand.

21. Come, Behold The Virgin Mother.

22. Come, Ye Rich, Survey the Stable

23. From the High Priest an armed band.

24. Good Christians All With Joyful Mirth [The Yoeman's Carol]

25. Good Christian people, pray attend (Coleman's Carol).

This first line occurs on several Broadsides that are unrelated to the celebration of Christmas, either as a holiday or as a holy day. A very likely prospect is a Broadside, "Coleman's Carol," a Christmas carol, published in Birmingham by Daniel Wrighton between 1811 and 1813, Theophilus Bloomer (1817-1827), by James Guest in 1830, and William Jackson and Son (1839-1852/3).

26. Good Christian, pray give ear.

27. God's Dear Son, Without Beginning

28. God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen

29. Hark! All Around The Welkin Rings.

30. Hark, Hark! What News The Angels Bring

31. Hark! How The Heralds of the Lord

32. Hark The Herald Angels Sing.

33. Have You Not Heard And Seen Our Saviour's Love

34. Here is a Fountain of Christ's Blood. Note that in earlier days it was more common to celebrate the entire of Christ's life and death than in our times, and thus, an Easter hymn might have been sung during the Christmas-tide (as, for example, some portions of Handel's Messiah.)

Birmingham Ballad Printers:
Charles Watson (1826) Broadside: 1. Christmas Carols. Carol I: The Fountain of Christ's Blood (Here is a fountain of Christ's blood) / Carol II: Hark! Hark! What news (Hark! Hark! What news the angels bring) Christmas Carols. Carol I [sic]: The Babe of Bethlehem (Come behold the virgin mother) / Carol II [sic]: Arise and Hail the Sacred Day (Arise and hail the sacred day)

Watson became a well-to-do printer and newspaper proprietor. His main career was at 24 High Street (1831-32), 26 Church Street (1832-34), and 23 Temple Street (1845-54). He issued ballads only from his first and least salubrious address, Jamaica Row (1826), in what must have been his earliest venture. The sheets, in most cases headed Christmas Carols, have the manuscript annotation of 1826, though one additionally has 'Christmas Eve 1824'. All are in the Bodleian Library.

35. Hosanna! To The Prince of Light

36. In Bethlehem City In Judea It was

37. In Friendly Love And Unity.

38. In God Let All His Saints Rejoice

39. Inspire me, Heav'n! nor in me leave a thought.

40. In The Reign Of Great Caesar, The Emperor of Rome

41. Let all good Christian people here.

Occurs in numerous Broadsides, including this 18th Century Broadside: "Three new carols for Christmas. 1. God rest you merry gentlemen, &c. 2. Good Christian people pray give ear. 3. Let all good Christian people here." Wolverhampton, [between ca. 1780 and 1800?].

42. Let All That Are To Mirth Inclined.

43. Let Children Proclaim Their Savior and King

44. Let mortals all rejoice.

45. Let Christians All With One Accord Rejoice [The Black Decree]

46. Let Christians now in joyful mirth. Also found under the title Joyful Mirth.

47. Mortals Awake With Angels Join.

48. My Gift Is Small, A Dozen of Points

49. My Master and Dame, I Well Perceive

50. Now When Joseph And Mary Went To Bethlehem Bound

51. O Fair, O Fair Jerusalem! When Shall I Come To Thee?

52. O faithful Christians, as you love.

53. O! faithless, proud, and sinful man. Also found under the title Rising of the Dead.

Known to have been printed by Theophilus Bloomer (1817-1827), with copies in the Bodleian Library and "A Collection of Christmas Carols," c. 1800-1840, a copy of which is located in the Birmingham Central Library, according to Birmingham Ballad Printers, Part One, A-J, compiled by Roy Palmer (2010).

54. O! See Man's Saviour in Bethlehem Born

55. O! The Almighty Lord

56. Of Jesu's birth, lo! angels sing.

57. On Christmas day in the morn (Sweet Jesus)

58. On Christmas Night All Christians Sing

59. One God There Is Of Wisdom, Glory, Might

60. One night as slumbering I lay. Also found under the title "The Sinner's Dream."

A copy of the Broadside printed by Theophilus Bloomer (1817-1827) is said to be in the Bodleian Library. The copy printed by Sarah Bloomer (1827), with the title "The Sinner's Dream" is said to be located in the Cambridge University Library, Madden Collection (Reel: 10, Frame 7036), according to Birmingham Ballad Printers, Part One, A-J, compiled by Roy Palmer (2010).

This ballad has also been printed in A Good Christmas Box, containing a Choice Collection of Christmas Carols (Dudley: G. Walters, 1847), pp. 7-9, republished by Michael Raven Publications with ISBN: 9780906114841.

61. Reader, pray do not think I am unkind.

62. Rejoice And Be Merry, Set Sorrow Aside. [A version of A Virgin Most Pure]

63. Rejoice now all good Christians.

64. See how the blessed Babe on Mother's knee.

65. Shepherds Rejoice, Lift Up Your Eyes

66. Sinners, who now do at this time.

67. Sweeter Sounds Than Music Knows.

68. The faithless, proud, and sinful man.

69. The First Good Joy Our Lady Had

70. The Holly And The Ivy Are Now Both Well Grown

71. The King Of Glory Sends His Son.

72. The Moon Shines Bright, And The Stars Give A Light

73. The Shepherds amaz'd, the Saviour behold. Also found under the title of Christ's Love For Sinners

74. This second Carol here I sing. Also found under the title Christ's Love For Sinners.

Birmingham Broadside Ballads:
Theophilus Bloomer (1817-1827) Broadside: Christ's Love For Sinners (This second carol here I sing)

Theophilus Bloomer was a printer, copper plate engraver, bookseller, stationer and bookbinder at 38 Snow Hill (1817), 10 High Street (1817-18) and 133 Digbeth (1818-20). From the back 10 High Street, as well as selling items from his Travellers' Vocal Museum he advertised: 'Rags taken in, and exchanged'. As a bookseller, stationer, bookbinder, printer and children's book publisher he operated successively from 42 Edgbaston Street (1821-22) and 53 Edgbaston Street (1822-27), the latter address designated as T Bloomer's Cheap Traveller's Warehouse. After 'a long and severe affliction', Bloomer died in 1827 at the age of 31, and was briefly succeeded by his widow, Sarah Bloomer.

Birmingham Broadside Ballads:
Charles Watson (1826) Broadside:  Christmas Carols. 1. The Best Wisdom. A Carol for the New Year (Ye young and ye gay). Carol I [sic]. Good Tidings to All People (Good gentlemen and ladies all). Carol II. Christ's Love to Sinners (This second carol here I sing). Carol III. The Nativity of Christ (All hail the ever glad'ning morn)

75. This Is The Truth Sent From Above

76. Thus Angels sing, and thus sing we. This is verse two of Hark! Hear Ye Not The Angel Song

77. Turn your eyes that are so fixed.

78. The Five and Twentieth of December

Birmingham Ballad Printers:
Theophilus Bloomer (1817-1827) Broadside: The Five and Twentieth of December (Upon the five and twentieth of December)

Birmingham Ballad Printers:
William Pratt (1840s?-1861) Broadside: The Five-and-Twentieth of December (Upon the five and twentieth of December) / Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (Hark! The herald angels).

As printer, stationer, bookseller, bookbinder and newsagent, Pratt worked, from a single address, 82 Digbeth, which he called 'The cheapest Song Warehouse in England' or 'W. Pratt's Song Emporium'. One of his sheets (no. 189, below) carries this information: 'Published by H. Reed, Stationer & Bookseller, 67 West-street, and 1, Tower-hill, Old Market-street, Bristol, where Hawkers and Shops are supplied on the Lowest Terms'. As late as 1851 he is recorded in the census only as a stationer (and native of Greenwich, aged 36) though the date of 1845 appears in manuscript on a copy of one of his sheets, Free Trade (no.103, below). He appears in the directory for 1861, though not in the census. The Anne Pratt, widow, shown as stationer, shown at Court 17, 3 House, Bartholomew Street (not far from Digbeth), could well have been Pratt's widow and her son, William Pratt, aged 14, fits remarkably well with the boy, aged four, of the same name, living with William Pratt, ten years earlier. (I am indebted to Keith Chandler for the census information). On some sheets Pratt printed stock numbers, of which the highest I have seen is 777 (see no.72, below). Of these, I have traced only 72. It is clear nevertheless that Pratt must have been the most prolific of the Birmingham ballad printers.

79. When bold Herod reigned king. [Perhaps a version of When Bloody Herod Reigned King ?]

80. When Christ the Saviour did appear.

Found in a Broadside published by S & T Martin (1807-1810): 1. A Divine Poem on the Birth of Christ (When Christ the saviour did appear) / 2. On Christmas Night (On Christmas night all Christians sing). According to the list of Birmingham Ballad Publishers, it was also published in "A Collection of Christmas Carols," c. 1800-1840, a copy of which is found in the Birmingham Central Library.

Thomas Martin, Robert's nephew, became Susanna's business partner in 1807 (though some sources suggest between one and four years earlier). Operating from 10 Ann Street and also 10 Haymarket, they were printers, printing ink manufacturers and bookbinders. No.5 (below) has this imprint: 'Printed by S. & T. Martin, Birmingham, Of whom may be had all Sorts of Histories, Godly Books, Slip Ballads, &c'. It also bears the annotation, presumably made by the purchaser: Elizabeth Oakley July 27 1808'. When Susanna Martin died in 1810 at the age of 76 the firm closed.

81. When Christ Our Lord Drew Nigh.

82. When Jesus Christ Had Lived [The Twelve Apostles]

83. When Jesus Christ Our Lord

Not to be confused with "Carol of the Bagpipers" (Il Zampognari). Fr. Gordon Hitchcock. ("When Jesus Christ our Lord / Was born at Bethlehem"). Erik Routley, ed., University Carol Book (Brighton: H. Freeman & Co., 1961), # 149, pp. 198-199.

However, I'm attempting to determine whether or not this hymn is the one we're looking for: "When Jesus Christ our Lord was born." Felix Mendelssohn. (from the unfinished oratorio Christus).

There are numerous YouTube videos available with this title.

84. When Righteous Joseph Wedded Was.

85. When Zachariah was a priest.

86. While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night

87. Within This Rock That Rock is Laid.

88. You Mortals All Of High and Low Degree.

89. Ye Young And Ye Gay.

"This Collection I have had little opportunity of increasing except when in the country I have heard an old woman singing an old Carol, and brought back the Carol in my pocket with less chance of its escape, than the tune in my head."

Editor's Note: At the end of the chapter, Mr. Hone adds the following:

"Since this sheet was at the printer's, Davies Gilbert, Esq. F.R.S. F.A.S. &c. has published eight 'Ancient Christmas Carols, with the tunes to which they were formerly sung in the West of England.' This is a laudable and successful effort to rescue from oblivion some carol melodies which in a few years will be no more heard. Mr. Davies says, that 'on Christmas-day these carols took the place of psalms in all the churches, especially at afternoon service, the whole congregation joining: and at the end it was usual for the Parish Clerk, to declare in a loud voice, his wishes for a merry Christmas and a happy new year. A sentiment similar to that of the parish clerk's in the West of England, was expressed last year in a way that leaves little doubt of its former general adoption at the same season. Just before Christmas day, I was awakened in London at the dead of night, by the playing of the waits: on the conclusion of their solemn tunes, one of the performers exclaimed aloud, 'God bless you, my master and mistresses, a merry Christmas to you, and a happy new year.'"

Footnote from Hone:

 * October 3, 1822, at the dinner of a city company I heard Mr. Taylor of Covent Garden Theatre sing a new ballad of 'good old times,' when

----- Christmas had its Christmas carols,
And ladies' sides were hoop'd like barrels. Return

Editor's Note:

Unfortunately, Mr. Hone provided no lyrics, and in many cases, the lyrics have been lost (although the initiatives at the Internet Archive, Google Books, Project Gutenberg, the English Broadside Ballad Archive, and others, will continue to help to recover some of these lost carols). When I first found this list, I was able to fill in only about a third of the carols. However, after several years of searching, I've now been able to find 61 of the 89 carols listed above, with 28 carols still missing. Links to the carols in this list were acquired from other collections of carols and hymns, from Broadsides, and the like.

This list was included in Chapter Three, Christmas Carols, of Hone's Ancient Mysteries Described (1823). In Chapter Three, Mr. Hone included or mentioned a number of other carols that were not on this list including

  1. The Cherry Tree Carol - Hone (Parts 1, 2, and 3) ("Joseph was an old man")

  2. The Carnal and the Crane ("As I pass'd by the river side")

  3. When Christ Was Born of Mary Free

  4. Be glad, lordynges, be ye more and lesse

  5. Nay iuy, nay

  6. Dives and Lazarus ("As it fell out, upon a day")

  7. Christmas Carol on Peako-Tea, by Francis Hoffman. London, 1722

  8. A Carol for the Eve of St. Mary's Day ("This is the season, when, agreeably to custom")

  9. The Bores Heed In Hand Bring I

  10. God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen

  11. Canzone d'l Zampognari

These "Christmas Carols now annually Printed" are, I think, carols annually printed by printers as "Broadsides." There are several sites that have some Broadsides -- more or less accessible -- but one of the best is the English Broadside Ballad Archive at the University of California at Santa Barbara, Department of English, Director: Patricia Fumerton. As this collection is being constantly added to, I check there on a frequent basis for new Christmas Carols that were "now annually Printed" as Broadsides in England.

Newly online is Broadside Ballads Online from the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford. There are many broadsides from their extensive collection, which cont5inues to grow.

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