The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

As I Went Through A Garden Green

Words and Music: English Traditional, Fifteenth Century

Compare: As I went throw a gardyn grene (Wright, 1856)

Source: Edith Rickert, Ancient English Christmas Carols: 1400-1700 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1914), p. 174.

See note under A song upon, Now I must sing

1. As I went through a garden green,
I found an arbour made full new;
A fairer sight had I none seen,
On every tree sang a turtle true.
Therein a woman bright of hue,
She said in her song not least;
This was her carping as I knew:
Verbum caro factum est.

2. To her song then took I intent,
She said a song with voice clear:
. . . . .
. . . . .
"This Prince that is without a peer
Is born and lain between twain beast,
I sing as thou might hear:1
Verbum caro factum est.

3. In that wone2 forth gan I wende,3
A seemly song then heard I tho,4
Of three shepherds that were full hend:5
"Gloria in excelsis deo."
I would not they had fared me fro,
Well fast after them gan I haste;
They told me that they sungen so,
For Verbum caro factum est.

4. Yet furthermore in that frith6
I saw three kinges come with crown,
I sped me fast to speak them down,
And to those lords I kneeled down.
The kings courteous to me gan sound,
And saiden they would fare in haste;
"To Bedlem bower now are we bound,
For Verbum caro factum est."

5. This is as much as for to say,
As Godes Son become is flesh.
He was born this ilke7 day,
A blissful way us for to wych.8
That may now, withouten miss,9
Here I show both more and least,
For she was the cause ywis
Of Verbum caro factum est.

6. Godes Son become is flesh,
That boot hath of all our bale,10
A blissful way us for to wych,
That maid Him harboured in her hale11
She bore that Lovely in her Sale,12
She held that Hend13 within her breast;
With true tongue she told the tale
Verbum caro factum est.

7. Verbum caro is to say
That Godes Son became is man;
He was born this ilke day
To save us fro the fiend Sathan.
That may that is while as swan,
She fed the Lord upon her breast;
Therefore I sing you as I can,
Verbum caro factum est.


1. Text: lere = learn Return

2. Abode Return

3. Text: "winde." Return

4. Then Return

5. Gentle; text: "hind." Return

6. Glade Return

7. Very Return

8. Show Return

9. Without mistake Return

10. Remedy for our trouble Return

11. Safe Return

12. Body? Return

13. Text: Hind Return

Editor's Note: "Verbum caro factum est" = "The Word is made flesh."

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