The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

My Sweet Little Baby

An Old Carol, With Lullaby
From Byrd's Psalms, Songs and Sonets, etc.

Words: English Traditional, 1575

Original Publication: William Byrd, Psalmes, sonets, & songs of sadnes and pietie made into musicke of fiue parts (London: Thomas East, the assigne of VV. Byrd, 1588), No. 32, "Lulla, Lullaby."

Source: Edith Rickert, Ancient English Christmas Carols: 1400-1700 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1914), pp. 77-8.

Compare: Be Still, My Blessed Babe (Sandys)
Be Still, My Blessed Babe - Husk
 

1. My sweet little Baby, what meanest Thou to cry?
Be still, my blessed Babe, though cause Thou hast to mourn,
Whose blood most innocent to shed the cruel king has sworn;
And lo, alas! behold what slaughter he doth make,
Shedding the blood of infants all, sweet Saviour, for Thy sake.
A King, a King is born, they say, which King this king would kill.
    O woe and woeful heavy day when wretches have their will!
        Lulla, la-lulla, lulla, lullaby.

2. Three kings this King of kings to see are come from far,
To each unknown, with offerings great, by guilding of a star;
And shepherds heard the song which angels bright did sing.
Giving all glory unto God for coming of this King,
Which must be made away — King Herod would Him kill.
    O woe and woeful heavy day when wretches have their will!
        Lulla, la-lulla, lulla, lullaby.

3. Lo, lo, my little Babe, be still, lament no more:
From fury Thou shalt step aside, help have we still instore;
We heavenly warning have some other soil to seek;
From death must fly the Lord of life, as lamb both mild and meek;
Thus must my Babe obey the king that would Him kill.
    O woe and woeful heavy day when wretches have their will!
        Lulla, la-lulla, lulla, lullaby.

4. But thou shalt live and reign, as sibyls hath foresaid,
As all the prophets prophesy, whose mother, yet a maid
And perfect virgin pure, with her breasts shall upbread
Both God and man that all hath made, the Son of heavenly seed,
Whom caitiffs none can 'tray, whom tyrants none can kill.
    O joy and joyful happy day when wretches want their will!
        Lulla, la-lulla, lulla, lullaby!

Also found in A. H. Bullen, A Christmas Garland (London: John C. Nimmo, 1885), p. 26, noting his source as Byrd's Psalmes, Sonets, etc., 1588. He also notes "William Byrd, a celebrated musician, was born about 1545, and died in 1623. The reader will find an account of his works in Oliphaut’s Musa Madrigalesca. Probably Byrd wrote only the music for his collections."

Scores are available at several on-line sources, including

Also available through the Early English Books initiative, phase II (EEBO-TCP Phase 2) <http://name.umdl.umich.edu/A17432.0001.001> (not yet open to the general public as of Jan. 2017).

Print Page Return Home Page Close Window