The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

There is a floure sprung of a tree

For Christmas

Words: By John Audelay from Douce MS 302, Bodleian Library, Oxford

Compare: The Flower Of Jesse (Rickert from Douce MS 302)
There Is A Flower Sprung From A Tree (Weston from Balliol 254-Richard Hill Commonplace Book)
Ther Ys A Flowr Sprong Of A Tre (Dyboski from Balliol 254-Richard Hill Commonplace Book)

Music: Not Stated

Source: E. K. Chambers and F. Sidgwick, eds., Early English Lyrics  (London: A. H. Bullen, 1907), #LVII, p. 110-111.

There is a floure sprung of a tree,
The rote thereof is called Jesse ;
    A floure of price,
There is none seche in Paradise !

This flour is faire and fresche of heue ; 5
Hit fades never, bot ever is new ;
The blissful branche this flour on grew
Was Mary mild that bare Jesu.
    A flour of grace,
Ayains all sorow hit is solas ! 10

The sede hereof was Godes sond,
That God him selve sew with his hond
In Bedlem in that holy londe ;
Amedis here herbere there he hir fond.
    This blissful floure 15 ,
Sprang never tot in Marys boure.

When Gabrael this maid met,
With ' Ave Maria ' he here gret ;
Betwene hem two this flour was set,
And kept was, no mon schul wit ; 20
    But on a day
In Bedlem hit con spred and spray.

When that floure began to spred,
And his blosum to brede,
Riche and pore of every lede 25
Thay marvelt hou this flour might sprede ;
    And kinges three
That blessful floure come to see.

Angeles there cam out of here toure
To loke apon this freschele floure, 30
Houe faire he was in his coloure,
And hou sote in his savoure,
    And to behold
How soche a flour might spring in golde.

Of lilly, of rose of rise, 35
Of primrol, and of flour-de-lyse,
Of all the flours at my devise,
That floure of Jesse yet bers the pris,
    As most of hele
To slake oure sorows every dele. 40

I pray youe flours of this cuntre,
Where evere ye go, where ever ye be,
Hold hup the flour of good Jesse
Fore your frescheness and youre beute,
    As fairest of all, 45
And ever was, and ever schal.


11. sond, sending.

14. Amedis, amidst,

25. lede, speech.

32. sote, sweet.

35. rise, twig, branch.

39. hele, health.

Notes to LVII, p. 350.

Douce 302; not printed hitherto. Another version in Balliol 354, printed Anglia, xxvi. 230; FlUgel, W.L., 60, and N.L., 115. The dialect is that of Shropshire.

24. MS. apparently reads ‘And his his blosum to bede'. We emend by the Ball. MS.

27. Reading doubtful.

34. golde; Ball. MS. ‘molde.'

Expanded Citations

Anglia, xxvi. 230,
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), p. 230.

Flugel, W.L., 60,
Ewald Flügel, "Englische Weihnachtslieder aus einer Handschrift des Balliol College zu Oxford." In Forschungen zur deutschen Philologie: Festgabe fur Rudolf Hildebrand, (Leipzig, 1894), p. 60. Texts from Balliol 354. 

Flugel, N.L., 115.
Ewald Flügel, Neuenglisches Lesebuch (Herausgegeben von Ewald Flugel: Band I, 1695), p. 115.

Douce 302
Douce 302. Parchment, 10 7/8 x7 7/8. Religious poems and legends by John Awdlay, a blind and capellanus in Haghmon (Haughmond) Abbey, in Shropshire; he describes himself on f. 35 as ‘the furst prest to the lord Strange,' i.e. Richard Lestrange, Lord Strange of Knockin. Some of the poems are dated 1426, and the MS. may be not much later. It passed through the hands of William Wyatt, a minstrel of Coventry, and John Barker, ‘a chanon of Lawnd.' Its contents, says Madan (iv. 585-6), are very fully described in the 1840 [Bodleian] Catalogue. Halliwell printed extracts in the Percy Society' publications, vol. 14, in 1844, A new complete edition is in preparation by J. E. Wülfing for the E.E.T.S. [No. LVII and note on CXXXIV.]

Balliol 354.
Balliol 354. Paper, 11 1/2 x 4. Commonplace book of Richard Hill, who describes himself as ‘seruant with Mr. Wyngar, alderman of London.' John Wyngar, grocer, was alderman in 1493, mayor 1504, and died 1505. Richard Hill married in 1518 Margaret, daughter of Harry Wyngar, haberdasher, 'dwellyng in bowe parishe in London,' and the births of his seven children are recorded in the MS. from 1518 to 1526. The MS. is a miscellany of the widest character, English, French, and Latin, poems, romances, fabliaux, extracts from Gower and Sir Thomas More, receipts, legal notes, London customs, etc. Some pieces, signed by Hill, must be in his own hand ; so probably is most of the MS. The latest date in it is 1535, but part must have been written before 1504. Rimbault, 120, refers apparently to the MS. in 1851, (see notes on CXXXI), and said he intended to print it entire. Chappell (1855-59), 50, notes that this MS. had been 'recently found in the library . . . , where it had been accidentally concealed, behind a bookcase, during a great number of years.' Extracts printed by Flugel, W.L., in 1894; and thence by Pollard, 1903 ; also in Flugel, N.L. Edited, almost complete, with full table of contents, by Flugel in Anglia, xxvi, 94, printing 126 items. Source: Notes, p. 307-308.


Editor's Note:

See also

Balliol Ms. 354 is available on-line at Early Manuscripts at Oxford University; see Balliol Ms. 354.

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.