The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Now Sing We Right As It Is

For Christmas

Words: English Traditional from the Hill Ms., Balliol College Ms. 354

Music: Not Stated

Source: E. K. Chambers and F. Sidgwick, eds., Early English Lyrics (London: A. H. Bullen, 1907), #LX, p. 116.

Now sing we right as it is,
Quod puer natus est nobis.

This babe to us now is born,
    Wonderfull werkes he hath wrought,
He wold not lesse that was forlorn, 5
    But again he hath us bought.
            And thus it is,
            For soth iwis,
        He asketh no thing but that is his.

A dulefull deth to him was mente, 10
    Whan on the rode his body was spred,
And as a theff he was there hente,
    And on a spere his liff was lede.
            And thus it is, etc.

' Man, why art thou unkind to me ? 15
    What woldest thou I did for thee more ?
Geve me thy trew harte, I pray thee.
    If thou be dampned, it ruthe me sore.'
            And thus it is, etc.

' Man, I love thee ; whom loveste thou ? 20
    I pray thee torne to me again,
And thou shalt be as welcom nowe
    As he that never in sin was seyn.'
            And thus it is, etc.


12. hent, taken.

23. seyn, seen.

Note to #LX, p. 350.

Balliol 354. Printed Anglia, xxvi. 254; Flügel, W.L., 76.

Another version in T.C.C., O. 3. 58; printed Fuller Maitland, 8-9 and 36-7.

Extended Citations:

Balliol 354.
Balliol 354. Paper, 11 1/2 x 4. Commonplace book of Richard Hill, who describes himself as ‘seruant with Mr. Wyngar, alderman of London.' John Wyngar, grocer, was alderman in 1493, mayor 1504, and died 1505. Richard Hill married in 1518 Margaret, daughter of Harry Wyngar, haberdasher, 'dwellyng in bowe parishe in London,' and the births of his seven children are recorded in the MS. from 1518 to 1526. The MS. is a miscellany of the widest character, English, French, and Latin, poems, romances, fabliaux, extracts from Gower and Sir Thomas More, receipts, legal notes, London customs, etc. Some pieces, signed by Hill, must be in his own hand ; so probably is most of the MS. The latest date in it is 1535, but part must have been written before 1504. Rimbault, 120, refers apparently to the MS. in 1851, (see notes on CXXXI), and said he intended to print it entire. Chappell (1855-59), 50, notes that this MS. had been 'recently found in the library . . . , where it had been accidentally concealed, behind a bookcase, during a great number of years.' Extracts printed by Flugel, W.L., in 1894; and thence by Pollard, 1903 ; also in Flugel, N.L. Edited, almost complete, with full table of contents, by Flugel in Anglia, xxvi, 94, printing 126 items. Source: Notes, p. 307-308.


Editor's Note:

See also

Balliol Ms. 354 is available on-line at Early Manuscripts at Oxford University; see Balliol Ms. 354.

Anglia, xxvi. 254;
Ewald Flügel, ed., “Liedersammlungen des XVI Jahrhunderts, Besonders Aus Der Zeit Heinrichs VIII. III. 6. Die lieder des Balliol Ms. 354,” in Eugen Einenkel, ed., Anglia - Zeitschrift Für Englische Philologie. Band XXVI. (Halle: Max Niemeyer, 1903),  p. 254.

Flügel, W.L., 76.
Ewald Flügel, "Englische Weihnachtslieder aus einer Handschrift des Balliol College zu Oxford," in Forschungen zur deutschen Philologie: Festgabe fur Rudolf Hildebrand, (Leipzig, 1894), p. 76. Some carols from Balliol Ms. 354 are also found in Ewald Flügel, Neuenglisches Lesebuch (Halle: Max Niemeyer, 1895) , pp. 111 ff.

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.

Fuller Maitland, 8-9 and 36-7.
J. A. Fuller Maitland, ed., English Carols of the Fifteenth Century, from a MS. Roll in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge. With added vocal parts by W. S. Rockstro. (London: The Leadenhall Press, E.C., ca. 1891), pp. 8-9 and 36-7.

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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