The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

In Bethlehem, That Noble Place

Alternate Title: Be We Merry In This Feast

Words: James Ryman, 1492
Compare: In Bethlehem That Noble Place

Source: William Henry Husk, Songs of the Nativity (London: John Camden Hotten, 1868)

See: In Betheleem, That Noble Place (Middle English from William Sandys, Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern, 1833), and In Bethlehem, That Noble Place (from Husk)

Be we merry in this feast,
In quo Salvator natus est.

1. In Bethlehem, that noble place,
As by prophecy said it was,
Of the Virgin Mary, full of grace,
Salvator mundi natus est.
    Be we merry, &c.

2. On Christmas night an Angel it told
To the shepherds keeping their fold
That in Bethlehem with beats wolde,1
Salvator mundi natus est.
    Be we merry, &c.

3. The shepherds were [en]compassed right,
About them was a great light,
“Dread ye naught,” said the Angel bright,
Salvator mundi natus est.
    Be we merry, &c.

4. “Behold! To you we bring great joy.
For why? Jesus is born to-day
Of Mary that mild may.2
Salvator mundi natus est.
    Be we merry, &c.

5. “And thus in faith find it ye shall,
Lying poorly in an ox's stall.”
The shepherds then lauded God all,
Quia Salvator mundi natus est.
    Be we merry in this fest,
    Salvator mundi natus est.


1. Wild? Return

2. Maid. Return

Husk's Note:

This is a carol of the same kind as the preceding [When Christ Was Born of Mary Free]. It was originally printed by Richard Kele in the small volume mentioned in the note on the Carol of the Innocents [Mark This Song, For It Is True].

Also found in Edith Rickert, Ancient English Christmas Carols: 1400-1700 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1914), p. 104, also citing Richard Kele's Christmas Carols as her source.

Also found in A. H. Bullen, A Christmas Garland (London: John C. Nimmo, 1885), p. 10, who notes that this and the next carol [A New Carol Of Our Lady, a.k.a. Lordes and Ladyes All By Dene] are from Christmas Carolles newely imprinted (circ. 1550), of which only a fragment has come down. Our text is taken from Bibliographical Miscellanies (Oxford, 1813). Bullen also reproduces the following graphic by Henry G. Wells:

The caption below the engraving reads:

"Dread ye nought," said the Angel bright,
"Salvator mundi natus est."

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