The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Whylome I present was with my soffreyne

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 #6, 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.

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For pencynesse and grett distresse I am full woo;
Destitute frome al refute, alone I goo.

Whylome I present was with my soffreyne,
Ignorawnt I was of dolowr and payne;
    For than I lyved
    For sorow deprived;
Of plesure havying habundawnce and delice.
    But now forsothe
    Sore hytt me ruthe,
Fortune contrarythe to my device.
                    For pencynesse, etc.

Whane fortune flatery ay deseveabyll,
My hert enyeyed by prosyrs delactabyll,
    I thow3t in mynd
    I schuld ay fynd
The whele of fortunat fyxyd fast;
    Nott for no chawnce
    To Make delyawnce,
Whyle my terme of lyff had past.
                    For pencynesse, etc.

Butt now prosyrs glorius be myxyd with gall,
Wyche bytter ys and tedius over all;
    Venimus as poysen,
    To me full naysom.
And from her palyse ryall,
    Ful cruelly
    And onavysedly
Sche hath soferyd me to fall.
                    For pencynesse, etc.

And into gret dole and mysery,
Devoyd of all felyce,
    With her owtrage,
    Me puttyng to damnag,
With hert countrystant thyse wordes I sey:
    For pencynesse
    And hyre distresse
Fad doth my yoye and wannych awey.
                    For pencynesse, etc.

For by her rygurus and crabyd violence,
Preventyd me sche hath of my pretence,
    Constrynyng me to fulfyll
    That repugnant is to my wyll;
For ther as I never entendyd to be abcent,
    Distawnce of place,
    Hyherd myschawnce and case,
Utterly hath alteryd my purpose and entent.
                    For pencynesse, etc.

Schult I not morne and in hert be sad,
Whan slydery cyn, wych never abydyng had,
    Schult do me payn
    By fortuns dissayn,
And al memory on me tak away.
    That the dyseys
    The hert on thynkys,
Wher syght ys nout, farwel thow3t, and have gud day.
                    For pencynesse, etc.

Thus my enmye mortale doyth determyne,
With dystawnce of place and current tyme
    Me wyl confownd,
    And never to redwnd,
But me consume and utterly wast;
    And of al resort
    Of joy and comfort,
Desolate me make and in penurye me cast.
                    For pencynesse, etc.

Whome nature excellently hath avawncyd,
And hevynly grace gyftes most and syngularly hath enhawncyd,
    In Bewte, in sagacite,
    In facund spech and in benyngnyte,
In behavyowr gudy, me umbyll in spyryt,
    And sondry wertuse,
    Wych canot discuse,
Frome hym am I sewrd be fortuns despit.
                    For pencynesse, etc.

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