The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Can I Not Sing But 'Hoy'

For Christmas

Words: English Traditional from the Hill Ms., Balliol College MS. 354

Compare: Can I Not Sing But Hoy (Rickert)
The Shepherd Upon A Hill He Sat (Weston)
The Shepard Vpon A Hill He Satt  (Flügel)

Music: Not Stated

Source: E. K. Chambers and F. Sidgwick, eds., Early English Lyrics (London: A. H. Bullen, 1907), #LXVII, p. 127-129.

Can I not sing but ' Hoy,'
Whan the joly shepard made so much joy ?

1. The shepard upon a hill he satt ;
He had on him his tabard and his hat,
His tar box, his pipe, and his flagat ;
His name was called Joly Joly Wat,
    For he was a gud herdes boy.
                    Ut hoy !
    For in his pipe he made so much joy.

2. The shepard upon a hill was laid ;
His dog to his girdell was taid 5
He had not slept but a litill braid,
But ' Gloria in excelsis ' was to him said.
                    Ut hoy !
    For in his pipe he made so much joy.

3. The shepard on a hill he stode ;
Round about him his shepe they yode ;
He put his hond under his hode,
He saw a star as rede as blode.
                    Ut hoy !
    For in his pipe he made so much joy.

4. The shepard said anon right, '
I will go see yon farly sight,
Where as the angel singeth on hight,
And the star that shineth so bright.'
                    Ut hoy !
    For in his pipe he made so much joy. 25

5. ' Now farewell, Mall, and also Will !
For my love go ye all still
Unto I cum again you till, 30
And evermore, Will, ring well thy bell.'
                    Ut hoy !
    For in his pipe he made so much joy.

6. ' Now must I go there Crist was born ;
Farewell ! I cum again to morn. 35
Dog, kepe well my shepe fro ye corn,
And warn well ' Warroke' when I blow my horn ! '
                    Ut hoy !
    For in his pipe he made so much joy.

7. Whan Wat to Bedlem cum was, 40
He swet, he had gone faster than a pace ;
He found Jesu in a simpell place,
Betwen an ox and an asse.
                    Ut hoy !
    For in his pipe he made so much joy. 45

8. Jesu, I offer to thee here my pipe,
My skirt, my tar-box, and my scripe ;
Home to my felowes now will I skipe,
And also look unto my shepe.'
                    Ut hoy ! 50
    For in his pipe he made so much joy.

9. ' Now farewell, mine owne herdes man Wat ! '
' Yea, for God, lady, even so I hat ; L
ull well Jesu in thy lape,
 And farewell, Joseph, with thy round cape ! ' 55
                    Ut hoy !
    For in his pipe he made so much joy.

10. ' Now may I well both hope and sing,
For I have bene at Cristes bering ;
Home to my felowes now will I fling. 60
Crist of heven to his bliss us bring ! '
                    Ut hoy !
    For in his pipe he made so much joy.


4. tabard, short coat.

5. flagat, flagon.

12. braid, time.

17. yode, went.

23. farly, marvellous

53. hat = hight, am called.

Notes to LXVII, p. 353.

Balliol 354. Printed Anglia, xxvi. 243; Flugel, W.L., 70 and Flugel, N.L. 117; Pollard, 87.

22. This stanza is placed seventh in the MS., b and a being written in the margin against stanzas 6 and 7.

47. skirt and scipe interchanged in MS.

Expanded Citations:

Balliol 354. Printed

Anglia, xxvi. 243;
Anglia ; Zeitschrift für englische Philologie enthaltend Beitrage zur Geschlicht der englischen Sprache und Literatur. Vol. xxvi. (Halle a.S.), p. 243.

Flugel, W.L., 70;
Ewald Flugel, "Englische Weihnachtslieder aus einer Handschrift des Balliol College zu Oxford." In Forschungen zur deutschen Philologie: Festgabe fur Rudolf Hildebrand, (Leipzig, 1894), p. 70, and

Flügel, N.L., 117;
Ewald Flügel, Neuenglisches Lesebuch (Herausgegeben von Ewald Flugel: Band I, 1695), pp. 117-119.

Pollard, 87.
A. W. (Alfred William) Pollard, ed., Fifteenth Century Prose and Verse. (A. Constable and Company, Limited, 1903), p. 87. Note: Pollard wrote the introduction but the volume was edited by Thomas Seccomb. The language in this edition has been updated as is found in the version from Edith Rickert, Can I Not Sing But Hoy.

This song seems to be related to The Second Shepherds' Play. See notes under Hail, Comely and Clean.

Balliol 354.
Balliol 354. Paper, 11 1/2 x 4. Commonplace book of Richard Hill, who describes himself as ‘seruant with Mr. Wyngar, alderman of London.' John Wyngar, grocer, was alderman in 1493, mayor 1504, and died 1505. Richard Hill married in 1518 Margaret, daughter of Harry Wyngar, haberdasher, 'dwellyng in bowe parishe in London,' and the births of his seven children are recorded in the MS. from 1518 to 1526. The MS. is a miscellany of the widest character, English, French, and Latin, poems, romances, fabliaux, extracts from Gower and Sir Thomas More, receipts, legal notes, London customs, etc. Some pieces, signed by Hill, must be in his own hand ; so probably is most of the MS. The latest date in it is 1535, but part must have been written before 1504. Rimbault, 120, refers apparently to the MS. in 1851, (see notes on CXXXI), and said he intended to print it entire. Chappell (1855-59), 50, notes that this MS. had been 'recently found in the library . . . , where it had been accidentally concealed, behind a bookcase, during a great number of years.' Extracts printed by Flugel, W.L., in 1894; and thence by Pollard, 1903 ; also in Flugel, N.L. Edited, almost complete, with full table of contents, by Flugel in Anglia, xxvi, 94, printing 126 items. Source: Notes, p. 307-308.


Editor's Note:

See also

Balliol Ms. 354 is available on-line at Early Manuscripts at Oxford University; see Balliol Ms. 354.

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