The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

An Earthly Tree A Heavenly Fruit It Bare

A Carol For Christmas Day

Words: Unknown
Compare Cast Off All Doubtful Care (Rickert)

Music: William Byrd, Songs of Sundrie Natures (1589)

Source: G. E. P. Arkwright, Ed., Songs of Sundry Natures by William Byrd, 1589. Ten Songs To Six Voices. The Old English Edition No. 9. (London: Joseph Williams and Oxford: James Parker & Co., 1893), No. 40, pp. 10-11. In the original edition, the the 4-voice chorus appears as No. 25. Sheet music is found on pp. 18-39.

1. An earthly tree a heav'nly fruit it bare,
    A case of clay contain'd a crown immortal,
A crown of crowns, a King whose cost and care
    Redeem'd poor man, whose race before was thrall
To death, to doom, to pains of everlasting,
By His sweet death, scorns, stripes, and often fasting.
        Cast off all doubtful care,
            Exile and banish tears,
        To joyful news divine
            Lend us your list'ning ears.

2. A star above the stars, a sun of light
    Whose blessed beams this wretched earth bespread
With hope of Heaven and of God's Son the sight
    Which in our flesh and sinful soul lay dead.
O faith, O hope, O joys renown'd for ever,
O lively life, that deathless shall persever.
        Cast off all doubtful care,
            Exile and banish tears,
        To joyful news divine
            Lend us your list'ning ears.

3. Then let us sing the lullabies of sleep
    To this sweet Babe, born to awake us all
From drowsy sin that made old Adam weep,
    And by his fault gave to mankind the fall.
For lo ! this day, the birth-day, day of days,
Summons our songs, to give Him laud and praise.
        Cast off all doubtful care,
            Exile and banish tears,
        To joyful news divine
            Lend us your list'ning ears.

Note In Text:

The Chorus of this Carol (Cast off all doubtful care), being of four parts, is printed among the four-part songs in the original edition, where it appears as number 25.

Source: G. E. P. Arkwright, Ed., Songs of Sundry Natures by William Byrd, 1589. Ten Songs To Six Voices. The Old English Edition No. 9. (London: Joseph Williams and Oxford: James Parker & Co., 1893), No. 40, pp. 10-11. In the original edition, the the 4-voice chorus appears as No. 25. Sheet music is found on pp. 18-39.

First Verse,  pp. 18-23

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Chorus, pp. 24-28

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Second and Third Verses, pp. 29-34

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Chorus, pp. 35-39

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Sheet Music from A. M. Wakefield, "Foundation Stones of English Music," Part VI, Carols: Serious and Secular, Part One, Serious Carols, in Murray's Magazine, Vol. IV, No. XXIII, November 1888 (London: John Murray 1888), pp. 679-683.

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Also found in  William Henry Husk, Songs of the Nativity (London: John Camden Hotten, 1868). Husk's Note:

This and the [preceding] carol [From Virgin's Womb This Day Did Spring] are taken from a rare musical publication bearing the title of "Songs of sundrie natures, some of grautie, and others of myrth, fit for all companies and voyces. Lately made and composed into Musicke of 3, 4, 5, and 5, parts: and published for the delight of all such as take pleasure in the exercise of that Art. By William Byrd, one of the Gentlemen of the Queenes Maiesties honorable Chappel. Imprinted at London by Thomas East, the assigne of William Byrd, and are to be sold at the house of the sayd T. East, being in Aldersgate streete, at the signe of the blacke Horse. 1589.Cum priuilegio Regiĉ Maiestatis." Each of the two pieces is designated, "A Carowle for Christmas day." ... Both this and the [preceding] carol are here given from a copy of Byrd's work in the Library of the Sacred Harmonic Society. Neither has hitherto been reproduced in any collection of carols.

Editor's Notes:

Sheet music from Songs of Sundrie Natures, by William Byrd are available at the Choral Public Domain Library (CPDL), including this carol, An Early Tree A Heavenly Fruit.

Likewise, sheet music from Songs of Sundrie Natures is available at IMSLP, but, unfortunately, not for this carol.

Also found in Palaestra. Untersuchungen und Texte aus der deutschen und englischen Philologie. XXIX (Berlin: Mayer & Muller, 1903), Wilhelm Bolle, "Die gedruckten englischen Liederbücher, bis 1600: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der sangbaren Lyrik in der Zeit Shakespeares," William Byrd, Songs of sundrie natures 1589, pp. 20-38. "An Earthly Tree" occurs on pp. 34-35.

Also found in Edmund Horace Fellowes, ed., English Madrigal Verse, 1588-1632. 2nd Edition (Oxford At the Clarendon Press, 1920), PP. 59-60.

Also found in Thomas Seccombe, ed., Shorter Elizabethan Poems. Vol. 4 of An English Garner. (Westminster: Archibald Constable and Company, Limited, 1903), pp. 46-47.

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