The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Marvel not, Joseph, on Mary mild1

Words and Music: English Traditional


Temp Henry VII or VIII

Source: Edith Rickert, Ancient English Christmas Carols: 1400-1700 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1914), p. 24.


Compare: Meruele Nozt, Iosep, On Mary Mylde - William Sandys (1833, with notes)
Mervele not, Josep, on Mary mylde - Thomas Wright (1841)

Marvel not, Joseph, on Mary mild;
Forsake her not though she be with child.

1. "I, Joseph, wonder how this may be,
That Mary waxed great when I and she
Ever had lived in chastity;
If she be with child, it is not by me."
"Marvel not, Joseph."

2. "The Holy Ghost, with merciful distense,2
In her hath entered without offense,
God and man conceived by His presence,
And she virgin pure without violence."
"Marvel not, Joseph"

3. "What the angel of God to me doth say,
I, Joseph, must and will humble obey,
Else privily I would have stolen away;
But now will I serve her till I die."
"Marvel not, Joseph."

4. Joseph, thou shalt her maid and mother find,
Her Son Redemptor of all mankind,
Thy forefathers of pains to unbind;
Therefore must not this matter in thy mind.
"Marvel not, Joseph"


1. Rickert's note: "This carol and the following one ["Joseph was an aged man," aka Joseph Being An Aged Man] seem to be unique. I have classified them in this group because, after all, Mary is the poet's theme, the use made of Joseph being merely an original way of emphasizing the subject. Return

2. Seemingly a unique form for distension. Return

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