The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

The Carol of King Canute

Also found as O Merry Rang the Hymn

For Christmas

Words: The Right Reverend Charles William Stubbs, D.D. (September 3, 1845 – May 4, 1912)
Dean of Ely, Bishop of Truro

Music: T. Tertius Noble

Source: Edgar Pettman, ed., The Westminster Carol Book (London: Houghton & Co., 1899), Carol No. 28, p. 36.

1. O merry rang the hymn
Across the fenlands dim,
(O Joy the Day!)
When Knüt the King sailed by.
O row, my men, more nigh
And hear that holy cry:
(Sing Gloria!)

2. From Ely Minster then
Rang out across the fen
(O Joy the Day!)
The good monk's merry song
That rolled its aisles among,
And echoed far and long,
Sing Gloria!

3. It was the Christmas morn
Whereon the Child was born
(O Joy the Day!)
On lily banks among,
Where fragrant flowers do throng
For maiden posies sprung?
An nay! Ah nay!

4. It was the winter cold
Whereon the tale was told,
(O Joy the Day!)
What hap did then befall
To men and women all
From that poor cattle stall,
O Gloria!

5. The Shepherds in a row
Knelt by the cradle low
(O Joy the Day!)
And told the Angel song
They heard their sheep among
When all the heavenly throng
Sang Gloria!

6. Glory to God on high
Who bringeth men anigh,
O Gloria!
And War's black death did ban,
And Peace on earth began,
And Christ the Word made Man
Sing Joy the Day!

7. Sing Joy, my masters, sing,
And let the welkin ring,
O Gloria!
And Nowell, Nowell! Cry
The Child is King most high,
O Sovran victory!
Sing Joy the Day!

Sheet Music from Edgar Pettman, ed., The Westminster Carol Book (London: Houghton & Co., 1899), Carol No. 28, p. 36.

Pettman_28-The_Carol_Of_King_Canute.jpg (454252 bytes)

Note:

Also found under the title “Ad Natalem Domini” in Charles William Stubbs, Bryhtnoth's Prayer and Other Poems (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1899), pp. 7-10, with these notes:

“On a certain day King Canute came to Ely in a boat, accompanied by is wife the Queen Emma and the chief nobles of his kingdom, hoping to keep there the solemn Festival of the Purification of the Virgin Mary [February 2], and when the boat came to the Portus Pusillus of the Monastery, the King raised his eyes aloft to the great Church which close by stood up on the rocky eminence, and was aware of a sound of great sweetness, and listening intently heard the melody increase, and perceived it was the monks singing in the Convent their psalms and chanting ''the hours,' and calling his people about him, he exhorted them also to sing with gladness, he himself with his own mouth expressing the joy of his heart in a little song of English words of which this verse is the beginning: –

 


 

and in Latin it is this: –

“Dulce cantaverunt monachi in Ely
Dum Cantutus rex navigaret prope ibi,
Nunc milites navigate proprius ad terram,
Et simul audiamus monachorum harmoniam.”

And there are other verses which follow, which up even to our own time are sung, being still treasured among the old ballads.” – Liber Eliensis ii. 85.

 

O Sapientia!

(Book of Wisdom VII. 25, &c)

Words: The Right Reverend Charles William Stubbs, D.D. (September 3, 1845 – May 4, 1912)
Dean of Ely, Bishop of Truro

Source: Charles William Stubbs, Bryhtnoth's Prayer and Other Poems (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1899), p. 60.

 

O Wisdom! Spirit of the Holy God,
Effulgent glory of Eternal Light,
Thou orderest all things, O divinest Might,
Strong wisdom, Spirit of the Holy God.

O sovereign Lord, thou master of man's soul,
Inspire,—we pray Thee by Thy Human Name,—
Man's feeble will with Love's perpetual flame,
And hold the wheels of Life with strong control.

O steadfast Spirit of the Holy God,
Be near us, guide us this and every day
With saving hand along Thy marvellous way,
Fair Wisdom, Spirit of the Holy God.

 

Note:

O Sapientia” is one of the seven “O's,” a series of antiphons chanted in the last eight days before Christmas, including the best known “O Emmanuel. For more information see The O Antiphons; see also John Mason Neale and Thomas Helmore, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel - Version 1.””

 

The Book of Wisdom 7:25-26: “For wisdom is more moving than any motion: she passeth and goeth through all things by reason of her pureness. For she is the breath of the power of God, and a pure influence flowing from the glory of the Almighty: ….”

The Book of Wisdom is also known as the Wisdom of Solomon in the Apocrypha of the Holy Bible.

 

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