The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

A song upon, Now I must sing, &c.1

Words and Music: English Traditional, 15th Century

Source: Edith Rickert, Ancient English Christmas Carols: 1400-1700 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1914), p. 20


Nowell, Nowell, nowell, sing we with mirth,
Christ is come well, with us to dwell,
By His most noble birth.

1. Under a tree, in sporting me
Alone by a wood-side,
I heard a maid that sweetly said,
"I am with child this tide."

Nowell, Nowell, nowell, sing we with mirth,
Christ is come well, with us to dwell,
By His most noble birth.

2. "Graciously conceived have I
The Son of God so sweet;
His gracious will I put me till,2
As mother Him to keep."

Nowell, Nowell, nowell, sing we with mirth,
Christ is come well, with us to dwell,
By His most noble birth.

3. "Both night and day, I will Him pray,
And hear His laws ytaught,
And every deal His true gospel
In His apostles fraught."

Nowell, Nowell, nowell, sing we with mirth,
Christ is come well, with us to dwell,
By His most noble birth.

4. "This ghostly case doth me embrace,
Without despite or mock,
With my darling, lullay to sing,
And lovely Him to rock."

Nowell, Nowell, nowell, sing we with mirth,
Christ is come well, with us to dwell,
By His most noble birth.

5. "Without distress, in great lightness,
I am both night and day;
This heavenly Fode3, in His childhood,
Shall daily with me play."

Nowell, Nowell, nowell, sing we with mirth,
Christ is come well, with us to dwell,
By His most noble birth.

6. "Soon must I sing, with rejoicing,
For the time is all run,
That I shall child, all undefiled,
The King of heaven's Son."

Nowell, Nowell, nowell, sing we with mirth,
Christ is come well, with us to dwell,
By His most noble birth.

Notes:

1. Rickert notes "I have not come upon the original on which this carol is based. It is a type of poem very popular in the fifteenth century, the Vision, and relates itself in treatment to the more elaborate carol on p. 174 [As I Went Through A Garden Green]; but it stands, I think, alone in representing Mary as prophesying the event, and picturing herself as singing lullaby." Return

2. To. Return

3. Nursling, creature. Return

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