The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Hearken To Me Both Old And Young

For Christmas

Words: English Traditional from MS. Balliol 354

Source: A. W. (Alfred William) Pollard, ed., Fifteenth Century Prose and Verse. (A. Constable and Company, Limited, 1903), pp. 85-86.

Of a rose, a lovely rose
And of a rose I sing a song I

Hearken to me both old and young,
How a rose began to spring,
A fairer rose to my liking
    Sprung there never in Kinges land.

Six branches are on that rose beme,
They be both bright and sheen.
The rose is called Mary, heaven queen,
    Of her bosom a blossom sprung.

The first branch was of great might,
That sprung on Christmas night !
The star shone over Bethlehem bright,
    That men might see both broad and long.

The second branch was of great honour,
It was sent from heaven tower !
Blessed be that fair flower,
    Break it shall the fiendes bonds !

The third branch wide spread,
There Mary lay in her bed,
The bright stream three Kings led
    To Bethlem there that branch they found.

The fourth branch sprung into hell,
The fiendes boast for to fell,
There might no soul therein dwell,
    Blessed be that time that branch gan spring !

The fifth branch was fair in foot,
That sprung to heaven, top and root,
There to dwell and be our bote,
    And yet is seen in priestes hands.

The sixth branch by and by,
It is the five joys of mild Mary !
Now Christ save all this company,
    And send us good life and long !

Editor's Note:

Other versions of this carol on this website:

There are other carols on this web site with similar first lines or burdens, although they have very separate themes and lyrics, including:

"Listen, Lordings, Both Great and Small" (Burden: A, a, a, a, Nunc gaudet ecclesia):

"Listen, Lordings, both leve and dear" (Nowell, -ell, both Old and Young):

"Listen, Lordings, Both More and Less" (Burden: Puer nobis natus est de Virgine Maria)

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