The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

God's Dear Son Without Beginning

Version 1

Words and Music: English Traditional, 15th or 16th Century

Source: Davies Gilbert, Some Ancient Christmas Carols. London: John Nichols And Son, Second Edition, 1823, Carol #7, pp. 20-23.
Also compared to Davies Gilbert, "Some Ancient Christmas Carols."
London: Nichols and Sons, 1822, reprinted Boston: Elibron Classics, 2007.
The 1822 edition has been scanned and posted on Google Books.

1. Godís dear Son without beginning,
    Whom the wicked Jews did scorn;
The only wise without all sinning,
    On this blessed day was born;
To save us all from sin and thrall,
    Whilst we in Satanís chains were bound;
And shed His blood to do us good
    With many a bleeding purple wound.

2. Remember then this blessed morning,
    Sweet salvation came unto us:
When that Christ with grace adorned,
    Gently strove with love to win us,
That mankind should be of God's fold,
    And feed like lambs on Sion's hill;
But not unkind, but bear in mind
    How Christ did us remember still.

3. In Bethlehem, King David's City,
    Mary's babe had sweet creation;
God and Man endu'd with pity,
    And a Saviour of each nation.
Yet Jewry land with cruel hand,
    Both first and last his power denied;
When he was born they did him scorn,
    And shew'd him malice when he died.

4. No place at all for our Saviour
    In Judea could be found,
Yet sweet Mary's mild behaviour,
    Patiently upon the ground
Her babe did place in vile disgrace,
    Where oxen in their stall did feed;
No midwife mild had this sweet child,
    No woman's help at mother's need.

5. No kingly robes nor golden treasure,
    Deck'd the birth-day of God's Son;
No pompous train at all took pleasure
    To this King of kings to run;
No mantle brave could Jesus have
    Upon his cradle for to lye;
No music charms in nurse's arms
    To sing the babe a lullaby.

6. Yet as Mary sat in solace
    By our Saviour's first beginning,
Hosts of Angels from God's Palace,
    Sounding sweet from Heaven's singing.
Yea Heaven and earth at Jesus birth,
    With sweet melodious tunes abound;
And every thing in Jewry's King,
    Upon the earth gave cheerful sound.

7. Heav'ns perceiving small befriending
    Of this promis'd prince of might,
From the christal skies descending,
    Blazing glorious beams of light,
A glorious star did shine so far,
    That all the earth might see the same;
And nations strange their faith did change,
    To yield Him honour, laud, and fame.

8. Then with Angel love inspired,
    Three wise princes from the East,
To Bethlehem as they desired,
    Came where as our Lord did rest:
And there they laid before the maid,
    Unto her Son, her God, her King,
Their offerings sweet, as was most meet,
    Unto so great a power to bring.

9. Now to him that hath redeem'd us,
    By his precious death and passion;
And us sinners so esteem'd us,
    To buy dearly this salvation.
Yield lasting fame, that still the name
    Of Jesus may be honour'd here;
And let us say that Christmas Day,
    Is still the best day in the year.

Sheet Music from Davies Gilbert, Some Ancient Christmas Carols (London: John Nichols And Son, First Edition, 1822)

Gilbert_Gods-dear-01_1822.jpg (59356 bytes)

Sheet Music from Davies Gilbert, Some Ancient Christmas Carols. London: John Nichols And Son, Second Edition, 1823, Carol #7.

Sheet Music from William Sandys, Christmas-tide, Its History, Festivities and Carols, With Their Music (London: John Russell Smith, 1852), pp. 258-60 (omitting verses 2 and 7 above).

Sheet Music from Rev. Richard R. Chope, Carols For Use In Church (London: William Clowes & Sons, 1894), Carol #5
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF

Carol-005a.gif (184509 bytes) Carol-005b.gif (290778 bytes)

Sheet Music from Ralph Dunstan, The Cornish Song Book (London: Reid Bros., Ltd., 1929), p. 100. "Melody and Bass (slightly altered) from Davies Gilbert's 'Christmas Carols,' 1822"
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF

Sheet Music from Richard R. Terry, Gilbert and Sandys' Christmas Carols (London: Burns, Oates & Washbourne, Ltd., 1931). "Words and melody from Gilbert's 'Christmas Carols,' 1822.'
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF

Sheet Music from Richard Runciman Terry, Two Hundred Folk Carols (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Limited, 1933), pp. 14-15.

007a-Gods_Dear_Son.jpg (160994 bytes) 007b-Gods_Dear_Son.jpg (179563 bytes)

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Richard R. Chope, Carols For Use In Church

God's Dear Son - Chope

Ralph Dunstan, The Cornish Song Book

God's Dear Son - Dunstan

Richard R. Terry, Gilbert and Sandys' Christmas Carols

God's Dear Son - Terry

Only tested by Noteworthy for Netscape, Opera, and IE Browsers (Versions 4 or 5)
In my experience, it also works with Firefox.

Editor's Note:

Found in both the Oxford Book of Carols (13) and the New Oxford Book of Carols (145). Both properly omit the unfounded slander against Judaism in the second line of the first verse, replacing it with with "wicked priests" or "vile men." Neither give any background for the carol.

The Oxford Book of Carols states that Gilbert (1822) contained eight verses. However, in both the 1822 and 1823 editions, there were nine verses, although the ninth verse was mis-numbered as "VIII" in both.

The New Oxford Book of Carols states that it was found in Sandys, 1833. I was unable to locate the carol in my copy of the 1833 edition, although the carol is in the 1852 edition with seven verses (omitting verses two and seven above).

Editor's Note:

Versions of this carol on this web site:

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