The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

A Medieval Carol Book

Sir Richard Runciman Terry, A Medieval Carol Book: The Melodies Chiefly from MSS. in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, and in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd., 1932).

Table of Contents

I. From the Selden Manuscript in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

Selden MS. B.26 is the primary source for songs, however, some songs are from MS. Eng. Poet e. I. Some carols in the Selden B 26 manuscript also occur in the Trinity manuscript. Another source for carols from MS. Eng. Poet e. I. is Songs and Carols Now First Printed From a Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century (London: T. Richards, 1847); although it was lost for a time, the manuscript was later found in an English estate and purchased by the Bodleian Library.


No. Title


1 Alleluia. Now Well We Our Merthis Make

Selden MS. B.26 f.10.

AMCB15.jpg (612607 bytes) AMCB16.jpg (417257 bytes)

2 An Heavenly Song (This Day)

Selden MS. B.26 f. 23v.

AMCB17.jpg (574153 bytes) AMCB18.jpg (406240 bytes)

3 As I Lay Upon A Night (#174)

Selden MS. B.26ff.18 & Selden MS. B.26 f. 18v.

AMCB19.jpg (531581 bytes) AMCB20.jpg (352193 bytes)


What Tidings Bringest Thou, Messenger?

Selden MS. B.26 f.15v.

AMCB21.jpg (702544 bytes) AMCB22.jpg (566269 bytes)

5 Of A Rose Sing We (This Rose is Railed on a Ryse)

Selden MS. B.26 f.9v.

AMCB23.jpg (577292 bytes) AMCB24.jpg (432917 bytes)


Part I. From the Royal Shepherd's Line | David ex progenie (Selden MS., Bodleian Library);

Part II. "See the Word Our Flesh Become” (“Verbum caro factum est”) (Selden MS., Bodleian Library)

Selden MS. B.26 f. 24v & Selden MS. B.26 f. 25.

AMCB25.jpg (599067 bytes) AMCB26.jpg (375223 bytes)

7 Psallimus cantantes

Cast Away The Olden

MS. Eng. Poet e. I., ff.40Y & 41.

AMCB27.jpg (744304 bytes) AMCB28.jpg (282395 bytes)

8 Alleluia, Pro Virgine Maria

Alleluya. The Joy of Virgin Mary

Selden MS. B.26 f.16.

AMCB29.jpg (634369 bytes) AMCB30.jpg (403894 bytes)

9 Ecce Quod Natura

Though They Cannot Palter

MS. Ashmole 1393 f.69.

AMCB31.jpg (631637 bytes) AMCB32.jpg (511164 bytes)

10 Omnes Una Gaudeamus

Let Us All Be Glad Together

Selden MS. B.26 f.11.

AMCB33.jpg (541526 bytes) AMCB34.jpg (245501 bytes)

11 Hail Mary, Full of Grace

Selden MS. B.26 f. 23.

AMCB35.jpg (549270 bytes) AMCB36.jpg (328525 bytes)

12 Sing We To This Merry Company

Selden MS. B.26 f.10v.

AMCB37.jpg (602498 bytes) AMCB38.jpg (316623 bytes)

13 Worshipt Be The Birth Of Thee
Ave Domina Celi Regina

Selden MS. B.26 f.14.

AMCB39.jpg (581125 bytes) AMCB40.jpg (318685 bytes)

14 Make We Joy Now In This Fest

Selden MS. B.26 f.15v.

AMCB41.jpg (588406 bytes) AMCB42.jpg (292169 bytes)

15 Nowel, This Is The Salutation

Note: there is a version of this carol in the Selden manuscript. See: Nowell, nowell, nowell, nowell (Edith Rickert, 1914).

MS. Eng. Poet e. I., ff.41v and 42.

AMCB43.jpg (621552 bytes) AMCB44.jpg (491545 bytes)

16 Nowel Sing we both all and some (Exortum Est in Love and Lysse)

Selden MS. B.26 f.7.

AMCB45.jpg (594201 bytes) AMCB46.jpg (384302 bytes)

17 Nowel. Out Of Your Sleep Arise

Selden MS. B.26 f.14v.

AMCB47.jpg (583767 bytes) AMCB48.jpg (475065 bytes)

18 Nowel. To Us Is Born Our God Emmanuel

Selden MS. B.26 f. 27v.

AMCB49.jpg (586469 bytes) AMCB50.jpg (419027 bytes)

19 Ah Man, Ah Say

Selden MS. B.26 f.7v.

AMCB51.jpg (652517 bytes)

20 Good Day Sir Christmas

Selden MS. B.26 f.8.

AMCB52.jpg (614979 bytes)


Available at the Bodleian:

About the collection

John Selden (1584-1654) matriculated at Oxford from Hart Hall in 1600, but left the University without a degree. He entered Parliament in 1621, and from 1640 to 1653 represented Oxford University in Parliament. 8,000 volumes of manuscripts and printed books which he bequeathed to the Library were received in 1659 and housed in the newly built West End. The manuscripts are divided into four series: Arch. Selden. A, Selden Superius (nearly all oriental), Arch. Selden. B, and Selden Supra.

MSS. Arch. Selden. A.

MSS. Arch. Selden. B.
MSS. Selden Supra
MSS. Selden Superius (nearly all Oriental)

Also see Sir John Stainer, Early Bodleian Music (1901).


II. From a 15th Century parchment roll in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge

As noted above, some carols in the Trinity MS are also found in the Selden MS.


No. Title   Page

Hail Mary, Full Of Grace

AMCB53.jpg (668679 bytes) AMCB54.jpg (273649 bytes) 40
22 Nowel. To Us Is Born Our God Emmanuel. AMCB55.jpg (581774 bytes) AMCB56.jpg (491300 bytes) 42
23 Alma Redemptoris. As I Lay Upon a Night (#189) AMCB57.jpg (625204 bytes) AMCB58.jpg (416538 bytes) 44
24 Now May We Singen As It Is AMCB59.jpg (575256 bytes) AMCB60.jpg (528390 bytes) 46
25 Be Merry, Be Merry AMCB61.jpg (674276 bytes) 48
26 Nowel Sing We Now All And Sum AMCB62.jpg (694776 bytes) 49
27 Now Make We Merthe AMCB63.jpg (537906 bytes) AMCB64.jpg (498669 bytes) 50
28 What Tidings Bringest Thou, Messenger AMCB65.jpg (626046 bytes) AMCB66.jpg (564200 bytes) 52
29 Eya martyr Stephane AMCB67.jpg (710057 bytes) 54
30 Pray For Us The Prince of Peace AMCB68.jpg (595071 bytes) 55
31 There Is No Rose Of Such Virtue AMCB69.jpg (599899 bytes) 56

* “Versions of those marked with an asterisk are in the Bodleian collection.”


III. Miscellaneous.


No. Title


32 Sir Christmas British Museum, Additional MSS. 5665. fol. 86.

 AMCB70.jpg (700683 bytes) AMCB71.jpg (639689 bytes) AMCB72.jpg (660474 bytes)

33 This Enders Night British Museum, Royal App. 58. f. 52 b.

AMCB73.jpg (626678 bytes) AMCB74.jpg (536975 bytes) AMCB75.jpg (380439 bytes)

34 Gabriel To Mary Went
Angelus Ad Virginem British Museum (Cotton MS.)
From a Sequentiale (Vellum MS., eary 14th C.)

British Museum, Cotton App. XXIX, f. 36 b.

AMCB76.jpg (688839 bytes) AMCB77.jpg (611672 bytes)

35 Laetabundus

Faithful People, Sweeten All Your Song With Gladness (with notes and additional musical settings)

Plainsong Sequence, before 11th C. from a Dominican Graduale.

AMCB78.jpg (627228 bytes) AMCB79.jpg (748549 bytes)


Some of these carols are also found in J. A. Fuller Maitland, ed., English Carols of the Fifteenth Century From A MS Roll in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge. (London: The Leadenhall Press, et al., 1891), with added vocal parts by W. S. Rockstro.


Rev. Terry compiled a number of volumes that richly contributed to the preservation of Christmas prose and poetry. See:

Twelve Christmas Carols
London: J. Curwen & Sons, Ltd., 1912

Old Christmas Carols
London: Burns, Oates & Washbourne Ltd., n.d., ca. 1923

Gilbert and Sandys' Christmas Carols
London: Burns, Oates & Washbourne, Ltd., 1931; With Music

A Medieval Carol Book
London: Burns, Oates & Washbourne, Ltd., 1932; With Music

Two Hundred Folk Carols
London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Limited, 1933; With Music

Print Page Return Home Page Close Window

If you would like to help support Hymns and Carols of Christmas, please click on the button below and make a donation.