The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

As I Came By A Grene Forest Syde

A Caroll of Huntynge

For Christmas

Words and Music: English Traditional
from Wynkyn de Worde, Christmasse Carolles Newly Enprinted (London in the fletestrete at the sygne of the sonne, 1521)

Source: Joseph Haslewood ("Literary Researches into the History of the Book of Saint Albans") in his reprinting of Juliana Berners, The Book Containing the Treatises of Hawking, Hunting, Coat-armour, Fishing, and Blasing of Arms: As Printed at Westminster, by Wynkyn de Worde, the Year of the Incarnation of Our Lord MCCCClxxxxvi [1496] (Harding and Wright, 1801, 1810), p. 59.

As I came by a grene forest syde
I met with a forster yt badde me abyde
When go bet /hey go bet / he ygo. howe
we shall haue sport and game ynowe.

Underneth a tre I hyde me set
And with a grete herte anone I met
I badde let slyppe / and sayd hey go bet
with hey go bet / hey go bet howe.
we shall haue sport and game ynowe.

I had not stande there but a whyle
Not the mountenaunce of a myle
There came a grete hert without gyle
there he gothe / there he gothe. &c.
we shall haue sport and game ynowe.

Talbot my hounde with a mery taste
All about the grene wode he gan cast
I toke my horne and blew him a blast
with tro, ro, ro, ro: tro, ro, ro ro,
with hey go bat, hey go bet, &c.
There he gothe, here he goth, &c.
we shall haue sport and game ynowe.

Editor's Note:

This copy of the carol was printed by Joseph Haslewood in his 1801 reprinting of Juliana Berners, The Book Containing the Treatises of Hawking, Hunting, etc.

The rest of the carol is found on page 59 (both pages below).

treatise-hunting-p58.jpg (85079 bytes) treatise-hunting-p59.jpg (68451 bytes)

Pages 58 and 59 from Haslewood.

Although de Worde has printed this in his 1521 Christmasse Carolles Newly Enprinted, he didn't reprint it in the 1496 Treatises of Hawking, etc., although Haslewood believed that this is precisely the kind of carol that should have been printed in such a book, writing "It would have proved more acceptable had the piece selected been incidental to some one of the diversions; a species of ancient lyrics, of which the specimens are uncommonly rare."

Haslewood obtained his copy of the carol from an unknown friend at Oxford — personally, I suspect Philip Bliss, a British sub-librarian and book collector who later served as Registrar of the University of Oxford from 1824 to 1853. Haslewood wrote:

An Oxford friend, whose acuteness of research is only equaled by his zeal to promote and assist the pursuits and enquiries of his friends, enables me to conclude this division with an elegant and curious fragment, that may be confidently pronounced, never before to have been re-printed or even noticed as in existence; and perhaps what is more singular, which remained to be gleaned after being known to that indefatigable antiquary, Thomas Hearne.

This, then, was the first reprinting of A Caroll of Huntynge since de Worde printed it in 1521,  and since it was reprinted in Vol. 3 of Guilielmi Neubrigensis Historia by Thomas Hearne, who told us about the discovery of the Carol in this Note.

Haslewood added this note: "The word mountenaunce or mountance, in the third stanza, signifies the distance of one place to another; it is used by Chaucer and Spencer...."

This carol is considered by Richard Leighton Greene and others as being the newer of the two known versions. The other version was printed by London grocer Richard Hill in his early 16th Century Common-place Book. See: As I Walked By A Forest Side - Froude.

Versions of this carol on this web site include:

Versions of 'As I Came By A Grene Forest Side' are also found on these web pages:

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