The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Marke this songe for it is trewe

A caroll of the Innocentes.

For The Innocents

Source: Edward Bliss Reed, ed., Christmas Carols Printed in the 16th Century Including Kele's Christmas Carolles Newly Inprynted. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1932).

This carol requires the installation of the "Junicode" font for best display.
See notes in F A Q

Middle English; See: Marke This Songe For It Is Trewe; retyped in Old Blackletter font: Marke this songe for it is trewe

Marke this songe for it is trewe
For it is trewe as clerkes tell.
In olde tyme straung thyngs cam to pas
Grete wonder and grete meruayll was
    In Israell.

There was one Octauyan
Octauyan of Rome Emperour.
As bokes olde doth specyfye
Of all the wyde worlde trulye.
    He was lorde and gouernour.

The Jewes that tyme lackyd a kyng
They lackyd a kyng to gyde them well
The Emperour of power and myght
Chose one Herode agaynst all ryght
    In Israell.

This Herode than was kyng of Jewys
Was kynge of Jewys and he no Jewe
For so the he was a panym borne
Wherfore on fayth it may be sworne
    He reygned kynge vntrewe.

By prophesye one Isay
One Isay, at lest dyd tell
A chylde sholde come wonderous newys
e shold be borne trewe kyng of Jewys
    In Israell.

This Herode knew one borne shold be
One borne sholde be of trewe lenage
That sholde be ryght herytour
For he but by the Emperour
    Was made by vsurpage

Wherfore of throught this kynge Herode
This kynge Herode in grete fere fell
For all the days most in his myrth
Euer he fered Chrystes byrth
    In Israell.

The tyme came it pleased god
It pleased god so come to pas
For mannes soule in dede
His blyssed sone was borne wyth spede
    As his wyll was

Tydynges came to kynke Herode
To kynge Herode, and dyd hym tell
That one borne forsoth is he
Which lorde and kynge of all shall be
    In Israell.

Herode than raged as he were woode
As he were wode of this tydynge
And sent for all his scrybes sure
Yet wolde he not trust the scrypture
    Nor of theyr councellynge.

Than this was the conclusyon
The conclusyon of his councell
To sende vnto his knyghtes anone
To sle the chylderne euerychone
    In Israell.

This cruell kynge this tyranny
This tyranny dyd put in vre
Bytwene a day and yeres too
All men chylderne he dyd sloo
    Of Cryst for to be sure.

Yet Herode myssed his cruell pray
His cruell pray as was goddes wyll
Joseph with Mary than dyd fle
With Chryst to Egypt gone was she
    In Israell.

All this whyle this tyrantes
This tyrantes wolde not conuert
But innocentes yonge
That lay sokynge
    They thryst to the herte.

This Herode sought the chyldren
This chyldren yonge, with corage fell
But in doynge thys vengeaunce
His owne sone was slayne by chaunce
    In Israell.

Alas I thynke the moders were wo
The moders were wo it was grete skyl
What motherly payne
To se them slayne
    In cradels lyeng styll:

But god hymn selfe hath theym electe
Hath theym electe, in heuyn to dwell.
For they were bathed in theyr blode
For theyr baptym forsoth it stode
    In Israell.

Alas agayne what hartes had they
What harts had they those babes kyll
With swerdes whan they hym caught
In cradels they lay and laught
    And neuer thought yll.


Editor's Note:

This is one of the carols that were first printed by Richard Kele, Christmas Carolles Newly Inprynted (circa 1550), reprinted in Philip Bliss, Biographical Miscellanies (1813), and included in Edward Bliss Reed, Christmas Carols of the 16th Century, Including Kele's Christmas Carolles Newly Inprynted (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1932).

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