The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

About The Field They Piped Full Right

For Christmas

Words: English Traditional Composite 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 #XX, pp. 37-38.

Tirly, Tirlow, Tirly, Tirlow,
So gaily the shepherds began to blow !

1. About the field they piped full right,
E'en as it came to middle night
Adown from Heaven there came a light
        Tirly, Tirlow, etc.

2. Of Angels there came a companie,
With merrie songs and with melodie,
The shepherds, they did those Angels see
        Tirly, Tirlow, etc.

3 ' Gloria in Excelsis ' was their song,
They said that peace should dwell among
All men who would to the Faith belong
        Tirly, Tirlow, etc.

4. The shepherds to Bethlehem sped that day
To see that blessed Sunbeam's ray,
And the stream of grace that flowed alway-
        Tirly, Tirlow, etc.

5. Now pray we to that gentle Child,
And unto Mary, His Mother mild,
Who ever was Maiden undefiled
        Tirly, Tirlow, etc.

6. That we His joy may never miss,
But come at last unto His bliss,
In Paradise to dwell, I wis
        Tirly, Tirlow, etc.

7. Now all who this, my song, do hear,
I pray ye sing and make good cheer,
And worship God in this same year

Tirly, Tirlow, Tirly, Tirlow,
So gaily the shepherds began to blow!

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. 237-8. 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), p. 11. Over 103 songs of great variety, including 62 "sacred songs and carols." Available at Internet Archive and Google Books.

Note that both Flügel and Dyboski give versions with only five verses, not the seven given by Weston.

Versions of this carol occur in three known manuscripts, one of which has been lost. Some versions are composites from two or three manuscripts, such as Terly Terlow, Terly Terlow (Chambers & Sidgwick). Other versions on this website include:

I. Oxford, Bodleian Library Eng. poet. e.1

II. Oxford, Balliol College 354

III. Coventry, MS formerly owned by Thomas Sharp (burned in 1879 according to DIMEV). Versions from Thomas Sharp, Hardin Craig, and Alfred William Pollard.

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