The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Now Unto Us A Babe Is Born

For Christmas

Words: English Traditional from the Hill Ms.

Music: Not Stated

Source: Jessie L. Weston, ed., Old English Carols from the Hill MS. [Balliol College MS. 354] Translated by Jessie L. Weston. (London: David Nutt, 1911), Carol # XVIII, pp. 32-33.

Now sing we a good song, I wis,
Quod puer natus est nobis.

1. Now unto us a Babe is born,
Who works right wonderful hath wrought ;
He would not leave mankind forlorn,
But us to bliss hath bought :
        And thus it is, forsooth, I wis,
        He asketh naught but what is His
.

2. A doleful Death was His to die
When on the rood His arms were spread,
And as a thief He hung on high,
And a sharp spear His life-blood shed :
        And thus it is, forsooth, I wis,
        He asketh naught but what is His.


3. ' Man, why art thou unkind to Me ?
What wouldest thou that I did more ?
Give Me thine heart, I pray of thee,
If thou be lost it grieves Me sore !'
        And thus it is, forsooth, I wis,
        He asketh naught but what is His.


4. ' I love thee, man ! Whom lovest thou ?
I pray thee turn to Me again,
And thou shalt be as welcome now
As one whom sin did never stain !'
        And thus it is, forsooth, I wist
        He asketh naught but what is His.

Editor's Note:

Weston's apparent source was 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 enthaltend Beitrage zur Geschlicht der englischen Sprache und Literatur. Band XXVI. (Halle: Max Niemeyer, 1903), pp. 254-5. This work is available at both Internet Archive and Google Books.

See also Roman Dyboski, ed. Songs, Carols and Other Miscellaneous Poems from the Balliol MS. 354, Richard Hill’s Commonplace Book. Early English Text Society Extra Series No. CI (London: Published for the Early English Text Society by Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., Ltd., 1907, issued in 1908), p. 30. Over 103 songs of great variety, including 62 "sacred songs and carols." Available at Internet Archive and Google Books.

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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