The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

A ferly thyng it is to mene

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 #11, 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.

Aye, aye, this is the day, that we shal worshep ever and aye.

A ferly thyng it is to mene,
    That a mayd a chyld have borne,
And syth was a mayden clene
    As prophetes sayden herbeforne.
I-wys it was a wonder thyng,
That, thowrow an aungelles gretyng,
God wold lyȝt in a mayden ȝyng,
        Wyth aye,
Aye, aye, I dar well say,
Her maydenhed ȝede no away.

Hys moder was a mayden myld,
    As holy kyrke wytnese and we;
Withouten weme sche bar a chyld,
    And so ded never non but she.
A farly thyng it schuld befall,
But god hath all women thrall
In peynes to ber her chylderne all,
        With aye,
Aye, aye, I dar well say,
She felt non of that aray.

Hys byrth was know that ylk nyȝgh
    In all the lond thorow and thorow;
Thedyr thei ȝodyn to se that syȝth,
    To Bethlem that fayer borow.
An angell bad that thei shuld go;
He seyd that betwene beestys two
Godes sonne seker ȝe fynd so,
        With aye,
Aye, aye, I dar well say,
In a crybe thei found hym ther he lay.

Thre kynges ouȝof Ynde lond,
    Thei cum to seke that ferly fode,
With rych presants in ther hond;
    A sterre styffely afore hem ȝode.
A ferly thyng it was to se,
That sterre was mor than other thre,
Yt held the course to that contree,
        With aye,
Aye, aye, I dar well say,
Thei ded not mysse of redy way.

Whan thei with that lady mett,
    Thei fond hyr chyld upon her kne;
Full curttesly thei her grett,
    And present hym with ȝeftys thre.
As kyng thei ȝeffe hymn gold to redd;
Myrre and sense to hys manhedd;
Of hyr offryng thus we redde,
        With aye,
Aye, aye, I dar well say,
Thei worshepyd hymn of the xij. day.

Mary moder, mayden myld,
    To the we cry, to the we call,
Thou be owre soeur and owre shyld,
    Us thou save fro myschevys all.
Thou pray thi sonne, that prynce of pees,
Of all owre synnes he us relees,
Ouȝt of this warld whane we shal cees,
        With aye,
Aye, aye, so that we may
Wend with hym at domysday.

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