Words: William Shakespeare
Source: Joshua Sylvester, A Garland of Christmas Carols, Ancient and Modern (London: John Camden Hotten, 1861), p. 94.
Some say that ever 'gainst that season comes,
Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated,
The bird of dawning singeth all night long:
And then, they say, no spirit dares stir abroad;
The nights are wholesome; then no planets strike
No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,
So hallowed, and so gracious is the [text ends unfinished].
This song of Shakespeare, although a mere scrap, breathes a delightful spirit of fancy blended with religious feeling. It is to be regretted that the poet of all time has only left us a few fragments relating to our subject.
Note that Hugh Keyte, an editor of The New Oxford Book of Carols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992) believes that "Joshua Sylvestre" is a pseudonym for a collaboration between William Sandys (1792-1874) and William Henry Husk (1814-1887). See Appendix 4.
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