The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Man Upon Mold, Whatsoever Thou Be

Words and Music: Traditional English

Source: Thomas Wright, Songs and Carols Now First Printed, From a Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century (London: The Percy Society, 1847), Song #ȝ0, printed verbatim from a manuscript probably owned by a professional musician, and apparently written in the latter half of the fifteenth century, circa 1471-1485.

This carol requires the installation of the "Junicode" font for best display. You can obtain a copy of this font from Old English at the University of Virginia, or right click here, and then select "Save File As" to save a copy of the zipped file to your computer. See notes in F A Q.

Man upon mold, whatsoever thou be,
I warn utterly thou getyst no degre,
Ne no worshyp abyd with the,
            But thou have the peny redy to tak to.

If thou be a ȝeman, a gentyllman wold be,
Into sum lordes cort than put thou the,
Lok thou have spendying larg and plente,
          And alwey the peny redy to tak to.

If thou be a gentylman, and wold be a squyer,
Bydest out of cuntre as wyld as eny fyer;
I the warn as my frend, thou faylyst of thy desyr,
            But thou have the peny redy to tak to.

If thou be a squyer, and wold be a knyȝt,
And darest no in armus put the in fyȝt,
Than to the kynges cort hy the full tyȝt,
          And lok thou have the, etc.

If thou be a letryd man to bere stat in scole,
A pilion or taberd to wer in hete or cole,
The to besy therabout I hold the but a fole,
            But thou have the peny redy to tak to.

If thou be a bachelar, and woldst ever thryfe,
Prekyst out of contre and bryngest hom a wyfe,
In much sorrow and car ledest thu thi lyfe,
            But thou have the peny redy to tak to.

If thou be a marchant to buy or to sell,
And over al the countre woldest ... the well,
I the counsell as a frend a ....R to dwell,
            But thou have the peny redy to tak to.

If thou be a ȝong man in lust thi lyfe to lace,
About chyrch and market the byshop wyl the chace,
And yf thou mayst be get, thou getes nouther grace,
            But thou have the peny redy to tak to.

If thou have out to do with the law to plete,
At London at the Parvis many on wyll the rehete,
I warne the the com not therout, thi purse may swete,
          And that thou, etc.


Notes from Wright:

The manuscript was here a little torn; the letters in Italics are supplied by conjecture; the few lacunes marked by dots I have not ventured to supply in this manner.

"At London at the Parvis." [last verse]. The Parvis or portico of St. Paul's in London, was the common place of consultation among the Lawyers.  Thus Chaucer, Cant. T. 1.311,
    A sergeant of lawe, war and wys,
    That often hadde ben atte Parvys.

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