The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Wold God that men myȝt sene

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 #8, 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.

Wold God that men myȝt sene
Hertys whan thei bene,
    For thynges that bene untrew.
If yt be as I wene,
Thyng that semyth grene,
    Ys ofte fadyd of hew.

Wyll ys tak for reson,
Trew love is full geson,
    No man sett be shame;
Trost ys full of treson,
Echy man oderys cheson,
    No man hym seylfe wyll blame.

Thys warlde ys varyabyll,
Nothyng therin ys stable,
    Asay now how so wyll.
Syn yt is so mutable
How shuld me be stable,
    Yt may not be thorow skyll.

Whan brome wyll appelles bere,
And hymloke hony in feere,
    Than sek rest in lond.
With men is no pees
Ne rest in hart is no lese
    With few be see and song.

Sythyn ther is no rest,
I hold it for the best
    God to owr frend;
He that ys owr Lord,
Delyver us ouȝt with hys word,
    And graunt us a good ende.

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