The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Nowell, Nowell, Nowell, Nowell

For Advent, Christmas

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

Words: English Traditional, Before 1536
Bodleian Library. MS. Arch. Selden B. 26. XV Century.

Source: Edith Rickert, Ancient English Christmas Carols: 1400-1700 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1914), p. 35

Nowell, nowell, nowell, nowell,
This is the salutation of Gabriel

1. Tidings true, there be come new,
    Sent from the Trinity
    By Gabriel from Nazareth to a city of Galilee:1
"A clean maiden, a pure virgin,
    By her humility
Hath born the Person Second in Divinity."
        Nowell, nowell, nowell, nowell,
        This is the salutation of Gabriel.

2. When that he presented was
    Before her fair visage,
In most demure and goodly wise
    He did to her homage,
And said: "Lady, from heaven so high,
    That Lord's (own) heritage,
For He of thee will born now be,
    I am sent on the message."
        Nowell, nowell, nowell, nowell,
        This is the salutation of Gabriel.

3. "Hail, virgin celestial,
    The meekest 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."
        Nowell, nowell, nowell, nowell,
        This is the salutation of Gabriel.

4. Then bespake the virgin again,
    And answered womanly:
"Whatsoever my Lord commandeth me,
    I will obey truly.
    Ecce sum humilima ancilla Domini:
    Secumdum verbum Tuum fiat michi."

        Nowell, nowell, nowell, nowell,
        This is the salutation of Gabriel.

1. Editor's Note: See note 1 in Nova, Nova: Ave Fit Ex Eva.

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 Selden Manuscript was the source for A Medieval Carol Book by Rev. Terry. Scans of the manuscript pages are on-line at the Bodleian Library; see Selden MS B26 (opens in a new window at an exterior site).

Print Page Return Home Page Close Window

If you would like to help support Hymns and Carols of Christmas, please click on the button below and make a donation.