The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

In Friendly Love And Unity

A Carol For St. Stephen's Day

Words: English Traditional

Tune: "Where is my true love?"

 The Roxburghe Ballads 3.452, The British Library, Shelfmark C.20.f.9(452)

Source: Four Choice Carols for Christmas Holidays, The English Broadside Ballad Archive, University of California, Santa Barbara, ca. 1700

See: Hymns to St Stephen

Being very necessary and proper to be had in all CHRISTIAN FAMILIES.


In friendly Love and Unity,
    For good St Stephens Sake,
Let us all this blessed Day,
    To Heaven our Prayers make,
That we with him the Cross of Christ,
    May freely undertake.
        And Jesus will send you his Blessing.

Those accursed Infidels,
    That stoned him to Death,
Could not by their Cruelties,
    With-hold him from his Faith,
In such a godly Martyrdom,
    Seek we all the Paths.
        And Jesus will send you his Blessing.

And whilst we sit here banqueting
    Of Dainties having Store,
Let us not forgetful be,
    To cherish up the Poor,
And give what is convenient
    To those that ask at Door.
        And Jesus will send you his Blessing.

For God hath made you Stewards here,
    Upon the Earth to dwell:
He that gathereth for himself,
    And will not use it well,
Lives far worse then Dives did,
    That burneth now in Hell.
        And Jesus will send you his Blessing.

And now in Love and Charity,
See you your Table spread,
That I may taste of your good Chear,
Your Christmas Ale and Bread;
That I may say that I full well.
For this my Carol sped.
And Jesus will send you his Blessing.

For Bounty is a blessed Gift,
    The Load above it sends,
And he that gives it from his Hands,
    Deserveth many Friends;
I see it on my Masters Board,
    And so my Carol ends,
        Lord Jesus send you his Blessing.


One of four carols on this Broadside. The carols were:

Also found in Joseph Woodfall Ebsworth, ed., The Roxburghe Ballads. Part XX., Vol. VII. (Hertford: Printed for the Ballad Society By Stephen Austin and Sons, 1871, 1890), p. 776. Carol 2. [For Tune, c. p. 777].

The Roxburghe Ballads, Vol. 7, p. 775. 

Note By J.W. Ebsworth, pp. 777-778:

No Colophon. Three woodcuts: 2nd, the Madonna and child; between, 1st, St. Matthew, and 3rd, St. John Evangelist. Roxb. has no Colophon, but the second and third of these ditties were printed by J. Millet in a volume of New Carols (Wood's No. 40), in Black-letter, circa 1674, or earlier, and this is the probable date of the originals. Ours is a modern reprint in White-letter. It is a fairly trustworthy version.

Note.—Although the Third Carol, "When bloody Herod reigned King," is mistakenly applied to John the Baptist, instead of concerning the Evangelist's festival, the woodcut was rightly assigned. Two other woodcuts of St. John are given on pp. 778 and 790. The tune to it is, " Oh no, Oh no, not yet" (p. 141); the tune of "In friendly love and unity" is, ' Where is my true love ?' Both these carols are in Wood's New Christmas Carols, 110, art. 5.

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

Note by Wm. Husk:

This is a north-country carol and is principally to be met with in the broad-sheets printed at Newcastle during the last and present centuries. An abbreviated version, with some alterations, which are anything but improvements, is given in some of the broadsides issued from the Seven-Dials press of the well-known Catnach. It has not been given in any preceding collection of carols.

Note that Hugh Keyte, an editor of The New Oxford Book of Carols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992) believes that "Joshua Sylvestre" is a pseudonym for a collaboration between William Sandys (1792-1874) and William Henry Husk (1814-1887). See Appendix 4.

Editor's Note:

Saint Stephen's feast day is December 26. Other hymns and carols for St. Stephen: Hymns to St Stephen. Saint Stephen was among the first seven deacons and was the first martyr. See the book of Acts, Chapters 6 and 7, and this biography of St. Stephen from the Catholic Encyclopedia.

Print Page Home Page Close Window

If you would like to help support Hymns and Carols of Christmas, please click on the button below and make a donation.