The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Now May We Singen As It Is

For Christmas

Words: English Traditional from a Manuscript in Trinity College Library, O. 3. 58. (James, no. 1230).
See: Cambridge UK, Trinity College O.3.58 (1230)

Music: English Traditional

Source: J. A. Fuller Maitland, English Carols of the Fifteenth Century. (London: The Leadenhall Press, E.C., ca. 1891), Carol #VI, p. 37.

Now may we singen as it is,
Quod puer natus est nobis

1. This babe to us that now is born,
Wonderful workės He hath ywrought,
He would not lose what was forlorn,
But boldly again it bought;

And thus it is
For sooth I wis,
He asketh nought but that is His.

2. This bargain lovėd He right well,
The price was high and bought full dear,
Who would suffer and for us feel
As did that Prince withouten peer?
    And thus it is, etc.

3. His ransom for us hath ypaid.
Good reason have we to be His.
Be mercy asked and He be prayed
We may deserve the heavenly bliss.
    And thus it is, etc.

4. To some purpose God made man;
I trust well to salvation.
What was His blood that from Him ran.
But fence against damnation?
    And thus it is, etc.

5. Almighty God in Trinity,
Thy mercy we pray with whole heart
Thy mercy may all woe make flee
And dangerous dread from us to start.
    And thus it is, etc.

J. A. Fuller Maitland, English Carols of the Fifteenth Century. London: The Leadenhall Press, E.C., ca. 1891, VI.

Carol in Original Form From a 15th Century Manuscript

Carol in Modern Form

Editor's Note:

This description of the source manuscript is from Chambers and Sidgwick, Early English Lyrics (London: A. H. Bullen, 1907):

T.C.C., O. 3. 58
Trinity College Library, O. 3. 58. (James, no. 1230). Parchment roll 7 inches wide, and 6 feet 7 inches long. One side bears a Latin ecclesiastical treatise; the other 13 carols and poems with music, perhaps by John Dunstable (see Bodl. Selden B. 26). Df the XV cent.; the forms of the words indicate northern origin. A variant of the Agincourt song is the only secular poem. The MS. was presented in 1838 to the College by H. O. Roe, Esq. Described in James, iii. 247. Edited with a facsimile and added vocal parts by J. A. Fuller Maitland and W. S. Rockstro in 1891, English Carols of the Fifteenth Century, from a MS. Roll in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge.

Editor's Note.

This carol is found in two manuscripts. Versions of this carol from these two manuscripts on this website include:

I. Balliol Ms. 354, the Richard Hill Commonplace Book

II. Trinity College O.3.58 (1230), Cambridge UK

And see also John Stevens, ed. Mediaeval Carols. Musica Britannica 4. (London: Stainer and Bell, 1952, 2nd ed. 1958), p. 4.

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