The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

In Beth'lem This Berd Of Life

For Christmas

Words and Music: English Traditional

Compare: Nowel. To Us Is Born Our God Emmanuel. (Terry, A Medieval Carol Book)
Contrast: Nowel. To Us Is Born Our God Emmanuel (With Sheet Music) from the Selden MS. (Selden MS. B.26 f. 27v.), Bodleian Library, Oxford. Mode VIII.

Source: J. A. Fuller Maitland, English Carols of the Fifteenth Century. London: The Leadenhall Press, E.C., ca. 1891, #2.

Nowel, nowel, nowel,
To us is born our God Emmanuel

1. In Bethlehem, This berd1 of life
Is born of Mary maiden and wife,
He is both God and man I schrife,2 (Nowel, nowel)
This Prince of Peace shall heal all strife,
    And dwell with us perpetual.

2. This Child shall buy us with His blood
And shall be nailed on the rood
His ransom passeth all earthly good, (Nowel, nowel)
Alas, what wight dare be so wood3
    To slay4 so gentle a Nowel.

3. By His power He His prize
Shall take from hell when He shall rise
And save mankind upon this wife, (Nowel, nowel)
Thus tellen us the prophecies,
    That He is King of heaven and hell.

4. This maiden's son unto His right
Shall pass to heaven by His might,
His Holy Ghost shall give us light, (Nowel, nowel)
And with the Father in heaven bright
    Shall reign, one God, this trust I well.

5. Pray we this child with good intent,
In our dying He us present
Unto His Father omnipotent, (Nowel, nowel)
The first tidings of His testament
    Brought to us Saint Gabriel.

Sheet Music

Carol in Original Form From a 15th Century Manuscript

Carol in Modern Form

Notes from Fuller Maitland:

1. Child. Return

2. Write. Return

3. Mad. Return

4. The 'nowel' seems here to be regarded as a personification of Christ. Return

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