The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Sing We To This Merry Company

For Christmas

Words and Music from the Selden MS. (Selden MS. B.26 f.10v), Bodleian Library, Oxford

Compare Sing We To This Merry Company (Rickert from the Fairfax MS.)

Source: Richard Runciman Terry, Two Hundred Folk Carols (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Limited, 1933), Carol #181, pp. 20-21.

Refrain (To be sung before each verse)
Sing we to this merry company,
Regina celi, letare

1. Holy Maiden blessed thou be.
Goddès Son is born of thee.
The Father of heaven thus lyve1 we.
     Regina celi letare.

2. Thou art empress of heaven free;
Now art thou mother in majesty
Y-knit in the Blessed Trrinity
     Regina celi letare.

3. [Hail] wife, hail maid (so) bright of blee;2
[Hail] daughter, hail sister full of pity;
Hail cousin(un)-to the Personès Three.
     Regina celi letare.

4. So, this courteous King of degree
Will be thy Son with solemnity;
(And) mildè (maid) Mary, this is thy fee.
…..Regina celi letare.

5. Therefore kneelè we on our knee,
[Thy] blissful birth now worship we
With this (our new) song of melody.
     Regina celi letare.

Sheet Music from Richard Runciman Terry, Two Hundred Folk Carols (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Limited, 1933), Carol #181, pp. 20-21.

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Notes from Rev. Terry:

1. Lyve = believe

2. Blee = hue, complexion.

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 #12, pp. 24-25.

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Editor's Note:

Regina cæli, lætare” means “Queen of Heaven, rejoice.”

Regina Cæli (or Regina Cœli) means “Queen of Heaven.” This is an ancient Latin antiphon/hymn about the Blessed Virgin Mary that is sung during the Easter-tide. This Christmas hymn takes only the salutation from the Easter hymn.

Latin and English texts, with notes, can be found in the Wikipedia article, Regina Cæli. That article contains information from Charles Herbermann, ed. (1913). Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company, which is now in the public domain.

Also See: “Regina Coeli (Queen of Heaven)” at NewAdvent.

The Selden Manuscript was one of the sources for A Medieval Carol Book. 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).

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