The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Nowel, This Is The Salutation

For Christmas

The Salutation Carol of the Angel Gabriel
Based on Luke 1:26-38,
The Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Words and Music from the Bodleian Library, Oxford (MS. Eng. Poet. e. I., ff41v and 42)
Mode II

Source: Richard Runciman Terry, Two Hundred Folk Carols (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Limited, 1933), Carol #184, pp. 26-27.

Nowel, Nowel, Nowel,
This is the salutation of the Angel Gabriel.

1. Tidings true there be come new,
Sent from the Trinity
By Gabriel to Nazareth,
City of Galilee.
    A clean maiden, a pure virgin,
    Through her humility
    Hath (now) conceived the Person
    Second in Deity.

2. When that he presented was
Before her fair visàge,
In most demure and goodly wise
He did to her homàge;
    And said, “Lady, from heaven so high.
    That Lordès heritage,
    For he of thee now born will be,
    I'm sent on his messàge.

3. “Hail, Virgin celestial,
The meek'st that ever was!
Hail, temple of the Deity!
Hail, mirror of all grace!
    Hail, Virgin pure! I thee ensure,
    Within a little space
    Thou shalt conceive, and Him receive
    That shall bring great solace.

4. Then bespoke the Maid again
And answered womanly,
“Whate'er my Lord commandeth me
I will obey truly.”
    With “Ecce sum humillima
    Ancilla Domini;
    Secundum verbum tuum,”
    She said, “Fiat mihi.”

Sheet Music from Richard Runciman Terry, Two Hundred Folk Carols (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Limited, 1933), Carol #184, pp. 26-27.

184a-Nowel_This_Is.jpg (99068 bytes) 184b-Nowel_This_Is.jpg (85570 bytes)

Notes From Rev. Terry:

1, 2, & 3. These final notes (of their respective lines) are of different lengths in the MS. This destroys the symmetry of the melody. I have therefore treated them as copyist's errors and made them all of equal length.

Ecce sum &c. = “Behold I am the humblest handmaid of the Lord. According to thy word” she said, “be it done unto me.

There is only one verse in the Selden MS. The remainder of the words are from various sources.

[Editor's Note: This note is a bit confusing since Terry gives his source as the "MS. Eng. poet. e. 1" from the Bodleian Library. There is a version in the Selden manuscript; see below.]

Sheet Music from Sir Richard Runciman Terry, A Medieval Carol Book: The Melodies Chiefly from MMS. in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, and in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd., 1932), Carol #15, pp. 30-31.

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Note from Editor:

Verses 2, 3, & 4 are identical to Martin Shaw and Percy Dearmer, The English Carol Book, First Series (London: A. R. Mowbray & Co. Ltd., 1913), Carol #25, The Salutation Carol.

Versions of this carol on this site:

Richard L. Greene gives us 24 Carols of the Annunciation in his The Early English Carols (Oxford, 1935), #234-#257, pp. 166-184.

The manuscript "MS. Eng. poet. e. 1." was the source manuscript for Thomas Wright's Songs and Carols Now First Printed From a Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century; it is now in the Bodleian Library.

See in the Bodleian Library, MS. Eng. poet. e. 1 (scroll down to get to "e. 1"), c. 1460-1480. There is a single image, fol. 41v, described as "Musical notation in a minstrel's manuscript; the text begins "Nowell, nowell, nowell, pis is pe salutacyon of pe angel gabryell" with "Bryng us in good ale" in lower margin, c. 1460-90; anglicana script." It doesn't appear that the entire volume has been scanned, or, if so, that it is readily available for viewing.

fol_41v.jpg (79890 bytes)

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