The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

The Shepherd Upon A Hill He Sat

For Christmas

Words: English Traditional from the Hill Ms.
Compare: "The Jolly Shepherd Wat", 
Can I Not Sing But Hoy (Rickert)
Can I Not Sing But 'Hoy' (Chambers and Sidgwick)
The Shepard Vpon A Hill He Satt

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 #XIX, pp. 34-36.

What shall I sing but Hoy,
When the jolly shepherd made so much joy ?

1. The shepherd upon a hill he sat,
He wore his tabard and his hat,
He had tarbox, pipe, and flageolet,
And his name was jolly, jolly Wat,
For he was a good herd-boy
    Ut Hoy,
    In his pipes he made so much joy :
    What shall I sing but Hoy ?

2. The shepherd down on the hill was laid,
His dog was fast to his girdle made,
In a little while he was sore dismayed,
' Gloria in Excelsis ' to him was said
    Ut Hoy,
    In his pipes, etc.

3. The shepherd, high on the hill he stood,
The sheep they flocked round the shepherd good,
With his hand he raised from his brow the hood,
He saw a star as red as blood
    Ut Hoy,
    In his pipes, etc.

4. ' Now farewell Mall, and Will farewell,
Now keep ye still, and guard ye well,
Until I come my news to tell,
And, Will, ring evermore thy bell/
    Ut Hoy,
    In his pipes, etc.

5. ' Now must I go where Christ is born,
Farewell, I come again with morn ;
Dog, keep the sheep from out the corn,
And guard ye well when ye hear my horn/
    Ut Hoy,
    In his pipes, etc.

6. To Bethlehem now Wat hath sped,
His sweat ran down, so fast he fled ;
Jesu doth lowly hide His Head,
'Twixt ox and ass He makes His bed.
    Ut Hoy,
    In his pipes, etc.

7. The shepherd said, 'I go forthright
To see yon strange and wondrous sight,
Where angels sing from Heaven's height,
And yonder Star doth shine so bright/
    Ut Hoy,
    In his pipes, etc.

8. 'Jesu, my pipe I give to Thee,
Robe, tarbox, scrip, I offer free ;
Home to my fellows now I flee,
The sheep, methinks, have need of me/
    Ut Hoy,
    In his pipes, etc.

9. ' Now farewell Wat, my herdsman true '-
' What, Lady, so my name ye knew ?
Lull ye my Lord to sleep anew,
And Joseph, now good-day to you !'
    Ut Hoy,
    In his pipes, etc.

10. ' Now dance and sing full well I may,
For at Christ's birth was I to-day ;
Home to my mates I take my way ;
Christ, bring us all to bliss, I pray !'
    Ut Hoy,
    In his pipes, etc.

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. 243-5. 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. 16. Over 103 songs of great variety, including 62 "sacred songs and carols." Available at Internet Archive and Google Books.

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