The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Now, Lordings, Listen To Our Ditty

For Christmas

Words: Seignors Ore Entendez À Nus, “An Anglo-Norman Song,” early 13th Century from a manuscript in the British Library, MS. Reg. 16, E. viii, 13th century

Translation: Attributed to Francis Douce

Source: William Hone, The Every Day Book, 2 Vols. London: William Tegg, 1825, 1827.  A second translation:

Now, lordings, listen to our ditty,
   Strangers coming from afar;
Let poor minstrels move your pity,
   Give us welcome, soothe our care:
In this mansion, as they tell us,
   Christmas wassell keeps to day;
And, as the king of all good fellows,
   Reigns with uncontrouled sway.

Lordings, in these realms of pleasure,
   Father Christmas yearly dwells;
Deals out joy with liberal measure,
   Gloomy sorrow soon dispels:
Numerous guests, and viands dainty,
   Fill the hall and grace the board;
Mirth and beauty, peace and plenty,
   Solid pleasures here afford.

Lordings, 'tis said the liberal mind,
   That on the needy much bestows,
From Heav'n a sure reward shall find;
   From Heav'n, whence ev'ry blessing flows.
Who largely gives with willing hand,
   Or quickly gives with willing heart,
His fame shall spread throughout the land,
   His memory thence shall ne'er depart.

Lordings, grant not your protection
   To a base, unworthy crew,
But cherish, with a kind affection,
   Men that are loyal, good, and true.
Chace from your hospitable dwelling
   Swinish souls, that ever crave;
Virtue they can ne'er excel in,
   Gluttons never can be brave.

Lordings, Christmas loves good drinking,
   Wines of Gascoigne, France, Anjou,1
English ale, that drives out thinking,
   Prince of liquors old or new.
Every neighbour shares the bowl,
   Drinks of the spicy liquor deep,
Drinks his fill without controul,
   Till he drowns his care in sleep.

And now—by Christmas, jolly soul!
   By this mansion's generous sire!
By the wine, and by the bowl,
   And all the joys they both inspire!
Here I'll drink a health to all.
   The glorious task shall first be mine:
And ever may foul luck befal
   Him that to pledge me shall decline!


Hail, father Christmas! hail to thee!
Honour'd ever shalt thou be!
All the sweets that love bestows,
Endless pleasures, wait on those
Who, like vassals brave and true,
Give to Christmas homage due.


1. “My fond shepherds of late were so blest.” A favourite air in Dr. Arne's “Eliza.” Return

Editor's Note.

Another translation was Lordings, From A Distant Home from William Sandys, Christmas-tide, Its History, Festivities and Carols, With Their Music (London: John Russell Smith, 1852), p. 215-6.

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