The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Marke This Songe, For It Is Trewe

A Caroll of the Innocents

For The Innocents

Source: William Sandys, Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern (London: Richard Beckley, 1833)


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See: Marke this songe for it is trewe - Version 2;
retyped in Old Blackletter font: Marke this songe for it is trewe

1. Marke this songe, for it is trewe,
    For it is trewe, as clerkes tell:
In olde tyme straüg 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.

2. 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 thä was kynge of Jewys,
    Was kyng of Jewys, and he no Jewe
Forsothe he was a Panym borne,
Wherfore on fayth it may be sworne
                            He reygned kynge vntrewe.

3. By prophesye one Isay,
    One Isay at lest dyd tell,
A chylde should come, wöderous newys,
That 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.

4. Wherfore of throught this kyng 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 to come to pas,
For mannes soule in dede
His blyssed sone was borne wyth spede,
                            As his wyll was.

5. Tydynges came to kynge 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 thä 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.

6. That 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.

7. 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,
                            From Israell.
And all whyle this tyrantes,
    This tyrantes wolde not cöuert,
But innocentes yonge
That lay sokynge,
                            They thryst to the herte.

8. 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!

9. But God him 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 to kyll;
With swerdes whan they hym caught,
In cradels they lay and laught,
                            And neuer thought yll.

Sandys' Note:

This [is] from Bibliographical Miscellanies, Oxford, 1813, 4to. being there taken from "Christmas Carolles," printed by Richard Kele, probably between 1546 and 1552.

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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