The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Hail, Comely and Clean

Words: English Traditional, from Secunda Pastorum,1 Towneley Plays

Compare: Hail, Comly And Clene (Chambers & Sidgwick)

Source: Edith Rickert, Ancient English Christmas Carols: 1400-1700 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1914), pp. 96-7.

I. Pastor. Hail, comely and clean! hail, young child!
Hail, Maker, as I mean, of a maiden so mild,
Thou has worried, I ween, the warlock2 so wild;
The false guiler of teen, now goes he beguiled.
    Lo, He merries;
Lo, He laughs, my sweeting,
A well fair meeting!
I hae holden my heting.3
    Have a bob of cherries!

II. Pastor. Hail, suffering Saviour, for Thou has us sought!
Hail, freely fode and flower that all thing hath wrought!
Hail, full of favour, that made all of nought!
Hail! I kneel and I cower, A bird have I brought
    To my bairn.
Hail, little tiny mop!4
Of our creed Thou art crop;5
I would drink on Thy cop,6
    Little day-starn!7

III. Pastor. Hail, darling dear, full of godhead!
I pray Thee be near, when that I have need.
Hail! sweet is Thy cheer! My heart would bleed
To see Thee sit here in so poor weed,
    With no pennies.
Hail! put forth Thy dall!8
I bring Thee but a ball
Have and play Thee withal,
    And go to the tennis.

Maria. The Father of heaven, God Omnipotent,
That set all on seven,9 His Son has He sent.
My name could He neven,10, and light11 ere He went.
I conceived Him full even, through might as He meant;
    And now He is born.
He keep you from woe!
I shall pray Him so.
Tell forth as ye go,
    And mind on this morn.


1. Editor's Note: "Secunda Pastorum" is translated as "The Second Shepherds’ Play." At one time, there had been some helpful files concerning Secunda Pastorum at the University of Dusseldorf. Unfortunately, those resources have disappeared, although there may be one item; see: This song is sung near the end of The Second Shepherds' Play (in the vicinity of line 1025 in some versions). See also: Can I Not Sing But Hoy. Return

There are many resources available concerning The Second Shepherds' Play on the World Wide Web.

All notes following are from Rickert:

2. Wizard, here applied to the devil. Return

3. Promise. Return

4. Child. Return

5. Head. Return

6. Cup. Return

7. Star. Return

8. Hand. Return

9. Created all things in seven days. Return

10. Name. Return

11. Alighted. Return

Illustration from Rickert:

Puer Natus Est

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