The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

She May Be Called A Sovereign Lady

For Christmas

Words: Thomas Ashwell  (c. 1478 – after 1513 (possibly 1527?)), an English composer of the Renaissance
Bassus, printed by Wynkyn de Worde)

Compare: She May Be Called A Sovereign Lady (Rickert), with notes.
She May Be Callyd A Souerant Lady (Flügel and Imelmann), with note.

Music: Not Stated

Source: E. K. Chambers and F. Sidgwick, eds., Early English Lyrics (London: A. H. Bullen, 1907), #LXXXVI, p. 156.

She may be called a sovereign lady,
That is a maid and beareth a baby.

A maid peerless
Hath borne God's son.
Nature gave place, 5
When ghostly grace
    Subdued reason.

As for beauty,
Or high gentry,
    She is the flower 10
By God elect
For this effect,
    Man to succour.

Of virgins queen,
    Lodestar of light, 15
Whom to honour
We ought endeavour
Us day and night.

Note to #LXXXVI, p. 359.

Bassus, sig. C 2. Printed Anglia, xii. 591.

Extended Citations

Bassus, Note p. 311.

Bassus. 'In this boke ar cöteynyd XX söges. IX of IIII partes and XI of thre partes.' [A list of titles follows.] Anno domini M.CCCCC. XXX. Decimo die mensis Octobris.

[Printed by Wynkyn de Worde. Only copy known is British Museum shelf mark K. I. c. 1, catalogued under ‘Book.' The words reprinted by Flügel in Anglia, xii. 589, and Imelmann in Shakespeare-Jahrbuch (1903), xxxix. 121.] [Nos. LXXXVI, LXXXVIll, LXXXIX.]

Anglia, xii. 591
Ewald Flügel, "Liedersammlungen des XVI. Jahrhunderts, Besonders Aus Der Zeit Heinrich's VIII. I. 1. Die lieder des Add. Ms. 31922," in Anglia ; Zeitschrift für englische Philologie enthaltend Beitrage zur Geschlicht der englischen Sprache und Literatur. Volume xii. (Halle a.S.), p. 591.

Rudolf Imelmann, "ZurKenntnis der vos-shakespearischen Lyrik," contained in Alois Brtandl and Wolfgang Keller, eds., Jahrbuch der Deutschen Shakespeare-Gesellschaft Vol. 39. (Berlin, 1903), pp. 121-178. "She May Be Called" is found on pp. 127-128.

Editor's Note:

The versions by Flügel and Imelmann are virtually identical. See: She May Be Callyd A Souerant Lady.

Also found in Edward Bliss Reed, ed., Christmas Carols Printed in the 16th Century Including Kele's Christmas Carolles Newly Inprynted. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1932), Plates C-F, pp. 5-8. Text and sheet music. Plates reprinted with the permission of the trustees of the British Museum. Now in the British Library.

I have seen references which give the title of the volume that contained Bassus as XX Songs. The name of the printer of XX Songs is unknown. See: John Milsom, "Songs and Society in Early Tudor London" in Iain Fenlon, ed., Early Music History: Volume 17: Studies in Medieval and Early Modern Music (Cambridge University Press, 1999), p. 285.

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