The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

A Little Child There Is Ybore

Alternate Title: "Susanni"

For Christmas

Words: Vom Himmel hoch o Engel kommt, Martin Luther, 1535
English translation (without Latin refrain) in Bodleian Library, Oxford, Ashmolean MS. 1393

Music: Unknown
Paired with "Von Himmel hoch" in Dearmer, The Oxford Book of Carols, Carol 118
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer

Contrast: "Susani" (From heaven on high, the angels sing)
Gloria Tibi, Domine (A Little Child There Is Yborn)
Gloria Tibi Domine (A litel childe there is ibore)
This Night To Us A Child Is Born (Weston)
All This Time This Song Is Best (Rickert)

1. A little child there is ybore,
Eia, Eia, susanni,1 susanni, susanni,
Ysprungen out of Jesse's more,2
Alleluia, Alleluia,
To save us all that were forlore.

2. Jesus that is so full of might
Eia, Eia, susanni, susanni, susanni,
Ybore he was about midnight;
Alleluia, Alleluia,
The angels sung with all their might.

3. Jesus is that child's name,
Eia, Eia, susanni, susanni, susanni,
A maid and mother is his dame,
Alleluia, Alleluia,
And so our sorrow is turned to game.

4. It fell upon the high midnight,
Eia, Eia, susanni, susanni, susanni,
The stars they shone both fair and bright,
Alleluia, Alleluia,
The angels sang with all their might.

5. Three kings there came with their presents
Eia, Eia, susanni, susanni, susanni,
Of myrrh and gold and frankincense,
Alleluia, Alleluia,
As clerkes sing in their sequence.

6. Now sit we down upon our knee,
Eia, Eia, susanni, susanni, susanni,
And pray that child that is so free:
Alleluia, Alleluia,
And with good heart~ now sing we.

1. 'Susanni:' from German lulling words, according to Elizabeth Poston. Return

2.  'More' = stock or thorn. Return

A_Little_Child_There_Is_Ybore.jpg (3276761 bytes)

The editors of The Oxford Book of Carols also note that this carol was also printed in Early Bodleian Music, 1901. They state that their version was collated with Richard Hill's MS. It also appears in Chambers and Sidgwick, Early English Lyrics (Gloria Tibi Domine), and in Richard Leighton Greene, The Early English Carols (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1935, #35A, p. 24, in five verses, omitting verse four, above).

See: Percy Dearmer, R. Vaughan Williams, Martin Shaw, eds., The Oxford Book of Carols. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1928, #118, pp. 248-9. They also omit the fourth verse, above.

For a discussion of the similarities and differences between "Susani" and "Susanni", see William Studwell, The Christmas Carol Reader (New York: Harrington Park Press, 1995).

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