The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

A Lovely Lady Sat and Sung

For Christmas

Words: English Traditional from the Hill Ms.

Music: Not Stated

Source: Jessie L. Weston, ed., Old English Carols from the Hill MS. [Balliol College MS. 354] Translated by Jessie L. Weston. (London: David Nutt, 1911), Carol #IX, pp. 14-17.

This very night
I saw a sight,
A star, as bright
As any day ;
And hearkened long
A Maiden's song,
'Lulley bye-bye,
'Lully, lulley.'

1. A lovely Lady sat and sung,
Thus to her Babe did say :
' My Son, my Lord, my dear Darling,
Why liest thus in hay ?
Mine own dear Son,
Whence art Thou come ?
Art very God, i-fay !
Yet none the less
I will not cease
To sing Bye-bye, Lully, lulley!
This very night, etc.

2. Then spake the Babe Who was so young,
And this, methinks, He said
'Yea, I am known in Heaven as King,
Tho' now in manger laid ;
And Angels bright
Round Me shall light,
E'en now they wing their way,
In that fair sight
Shall ye delight,
And sing Bye-bye, Lully, lulley'
This very night, etc.

3. 'Jesus, my Son, of Heaven the King,
Why liest Thou here in stall ?
And why hast Thou no fair bedding
Spread in some rich king's hall ?
Methinks, of right,
The Lord of Might
Should lie in fair array ;
But none the less
I will not cease
To sing Bye-bye, Lully, lulley.'
This very night, etc.

4. 'Oh, Mary, Mother, Queen of bliss,
Methinks it were ill done
If I should seek the kings, I wis
Tis they should to Me run !
But ye shall see
Kings crowned three
Come here on the Twelfth Day--
For this behest
Give Me your breast,
And sing Bye-bye, Lully, lulley.'
This very night, etc.

5. 'Jesus, My Son, I pray Thee say,
As Thou art to Me dear,
How may I please Thee best alway
And make Thee right good cheer ?
For all Thy will
I would fulfil,
Thou know'st it well, i-fay,
Rock Thee, perchance,
Or maybe dance,
And sing Bye-bye, Lully, lulley'
This very night, etc.

6. ' Now Mary, Mother, hark to Me,
Take thou Me up aloft,
And in thine arms now cradle Me
And dance Me now full oft ;
And lap Me warm,
That, free from harm,
Secure I rest alway,
And if I weep
And will not sleep,
Then sing Bye-bye, Lully, lulley.'
This very night, etc.

7. 'Jesus, My Son, high Heaven's King,
If so Thy Will it were,
Grant Me as boon but this one thing
As seemeth fit and fair ;
And all men still,
Who can and will
Make merry on this Day :
To bliss them bring,
And I shall sing,
Lully, bye-bye, Lully, lulley.'
This very night, etc.

Editor's Note:

Weston's apparent source was Ewald Flügel, ed., “Liedersammlungen des XVI Jahrhunderts, Besonders Aus Der Zeit Heinrichs VIII. III. 6. Die lieder des Balliol Ms. 354,” in Eugen Einenkel, ed., Anglia - Zeitschrift für englische Philologie enthaltend Beitrage zur Geschlicht der englischen Sprache und Literatur. Band XXVI. (Halle: Max Niemeyer, 1903), pp. 250-251. This work is available at both Internet Archive and Google Books.

See also Roman Dyboski, ed. Songs, Carols and Other Miscellaneous Poems from the Balliol MS. 354, Richard Hill’s Commonplace Book. Early English Text Society Extra Series No. CI (London: Published for the Early English Text Society by Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., Ltd., 1907, issued in 1908). Over 103 songs of great variety, including 62 "sacred songs and carols." Available at Internet Archive and Google Books.

There are numerous carols with a very similar title, and at least five manuscript sources for versions of these two songs, including, but not limited to:

1. Versions from Addit. Ms. 5465, British Library:

2. Versions from Ms. Eng. Poet. e. 1.:

3. Versions from the Advocates Library, Edinburgh:

4. A Version from the Ms. Royal Appx. 58:

5. A Version from the Balliol MS. 354, the Richard Hill Commonplace Book:

6. A Version from Ritson's Manuscript, Add. MS 5665

Because of the similarity of the texts from Add. MS 5465 (Fairfax Ms.) and Add. MS 5665 (Ritson's Ms.), it is impossible to determine the source of Edith Rickert's second version of this carol, This Endernight I Saw A Sight (Burden: "Ah, my dear Son," said Mary, "ah, my dear,), pp. 62-63.

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