The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Now Is Christmas Ycome

Alternate Title: The III Kings

For the Epiphany

Words: English Traditional, Fifteenth Century

See: The Three Kings / I Would Now Sing For

Source: Edith Rickert, Ancient English Christmas Carols: 1400-1700 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1914), pp. 110-1.

1. Now is Christmas ycome,
Father and Son together in one,
Holy Ghost, as ye be one,
                    in fere-a,1
God send us a good New Year-a!

2. I would you sing for an I might,
Of a Child is fair in sight,
His mother him bare this endernight
                    so still-a,
And as it was His will-a.

3. There came three kings fro Galilee
Into Bethlehem, that fair city,
To seek Him that ever should be
                    by right-a,
Lord and king and knight-a.

4. And they came forth with their offering,
They met with Herod, that moody king,
[Lost line]
                    this tide-a,
And this to them he said-a:

5. "Of whence be ye, you kingės three?"
"Of the East, as you may see,
To seek Him that ever should be
                    by right-a,
Lord and king and knight-a."

6. "When you at this child have be,
Come home again by me,
Tell me the sight that you have see,
                    I pray you;
Go you no other way-a."

7. They took their leave, both old and ying,
Of Herod, that moody king;
They went forth with their offering
                    by light-a,
By the star that shone so bright-a.

8. Till they came into the place
Where Jesus and His mother was,
Offered they up with great solace
                    in fere-a
Gold, incense, and myrrh-a.

9. The Father of heaven an angel down sent
To thiccy2 three kings that made present
                    this tide-a,
And this to them he said-a.

10. "My Lord hath warned you every one,
By Herod king you go not home;
For an you do, he will you slone3
                    and strye-a4
And hurt you wonderly-a"

11. Forth then went these kinges three,
Till they came home to their country;
Glad and blithe they were all three
Of the sight that they had see
The company was clean-a.

12. Kneel we now here a-down,
Pray we in good devotion
To the King of great renown,
                    of grace-a,
In heaven to have a place-a.


1. Together. Return

2. Dialect still for these. Return

3. Slay. Return

4. Destroy. Return

5. Together. Return

Rickert adds this note concerning this carol and Now Is The Twelfth Day Ycome:

    "The Adoration of the Magi was one of the most popular subjects for pictorial and dramatic representation in the Middle Ages; but carols on the theme are few, elaborate, and not especially good. The first two carols are version of the same to the end of the eleventh stanza; then the second, with some confusions, appends the Slaughter of the Innocents."

Also found in A. H. Bullen, A Christmas Garland (London: John C. Nimmo, 1885), note, page 250, who cites his source as Notes and Queries, 6th Series, vi. 505-7.

Editor's Note:

The omitted third line in the fourth verse also occurs in Sandys, Bullen, and Richard Leighton Greene, ed., The Early English Carols (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1935), #125C. Dearmer, Vaughan-Williams, and Shaw, The Oxford Book of Carols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1928), #173, gives: "He asked them of their coming", following Sidgwick, Ancient Carols, 1908. The tune given in OBC was composed by Ralph Vaughan Williams.

The additional line in the 11th verse is also found in Sandys, Bullen, and Greene. OBC does not contain the verse.


Versions of this song on this web site:

See note: Now Is Christmas Ycome


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