This Enders* Night
Words and Melody (fifteenth Century) from British Museum Roy. App. 58. f. 52b.
Source: Richard Runciman Terry, Two Hundred Folk Carols (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Limited, 1933), Carol #197, pp. 49-51. Also A Medieval Carol Book, #33.
Chorus (Sung before first verse)
This enders night I saw a sight,
A star as bright as day;
And ever among
A maiden sung.
By, by Baby lullay.
Editor's Note: The verses have an unusual structure. The first four lines are sung as either a solo or as a quartet. The final four lines are sung as a chorus. The second and third verses have an additional line of text. See the sheet music.
(First half) Solo or Quartet
1. This Virgin clere
Unto her Son gan say:
'My Son, my Lord, my Father dear
Why liest Thou in hay?
Fabourdon (Second half of Verses) Chorus
be right that king and knight
Should lie in rich array;
Yet nevertheless I will not cease
To sing by by lullay!
Ending of Fabourdon Verses 2 & 3
And sing by Baby lullay!
2. This Babe full
bayne answered again,
And thus methought He said;
'I am a King above all thing,
In hay if I be laid.
For ye shall see that kingès three
Shall ever on twelfth day,
For thy behest give Me thy breast,
And sing by Baby lullay.'
3. (The Virgin speaks)
My Son I say
Thou art my darling Dear;
I shall That keep while Thou dost sleep
And make Thee goodè cheer.
And all Thy will I will fulfil,
Thou wot'st right well in fay;
Yet more than this twill Thee kiss,
And sing by Baby lullay.
4. (The Babe speaks)
My mother sweet,
when I have sleep,
Then take Me up at lost,
Upon thy knee do thou set Me,
And handle Me full soft.
And in your arm lap Me right warm
And keep Me night and day;
And if I weep and cannot sleep
Sing by Baby lullay.
5. (The Virgin speaks)
My Son, my Lord, my
Sith all is at Thy will,
I pray Thee, Son, grant me a boon,
If it be right and skill;
That child or man (who) may or can
Be merry on this day,
To bliss them bring and I shall sing
By by Baby lullay.
6. (The Babe speaks)
My mother shene, of
Your asking that I speed,
So that the mirth displease Me not,
In (verity) indeed.
Sing what ye will so that ye fulfil
My ten commandments aye;
You for to please let them not cease
To sing Baby lullay.
Sheet Music from Richard Runciman Terry, Two Hundred Folk Carols (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Limited, 1933), Carol #197, pp. 49-51.
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 #32, pp. 60-62.
Footnote from Rev. Terry:
*Endere in MS.
Notes from Rev. Terry:
This enders night = last night.
Clere = bright, glorious.
Bayne = willing, obedient
In fay = is truth.
Sith = since.
Shene = bright, radiant.
There are three different songs with very similar titles. This song, “This Enders Night,” (and the slightly different variant “This Endris Night”) differs from the song with the title “This Endernight I Saw A Sight.” The first verses of each are presented below by way of comparison. Please note that even between these distinctions, some versions will have some considerable differences.
This Enders Night
This enders night
I saw a sight,
1. This Virgin
clere withouten fere,
be right that king and knight
This Endris Night
1. This lovely
lady sat and sang,
This Endernight I Saw A Sight
"Ah, my dear
Son," said Mary, "ah, my dear,
This endernight I saw a sight,
Version 1: This Endere Night
This Endris Night - Version 1, with notes; Source lost; First verse: This lovely lady sat and sang
This Endris Night - Version 2 - William Henry Husk, 1868, with sheet music and note; First verse: This lovely lady sat and sang. Sheet Music is from Martin Shaw and Percy Dearmer, The English Carol Book, Second Series (London: A. R. Mowbray & Co., Ltd., 1913), Carol #51.
This endurs ny3t I see a syght - Wright, 1845; First Line: This lovely lady sete and song
Thys endris nyghth - Thomas Wright (1847); First verse: This lovely lady sat and song
This Endris Night I Saw A Sight - Chambers & Sidgwick; First verse: This lovely lady sat and song
This Winter's Night, I Saw A Sight - Joshua Sylvester, 1861; First verse: This lovely lady sang and sang.
The Virgin and Child - Bramley and Stainer, Second Series, Carol #25, ca. 1871, with sheet music; First Verse: A lovely lady sat and sang
This carol is contained in a very curious manuscript copy of Songs and Carols Now First Printed From a Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century, which was edited by Mr. Thomas Wright in 1847 for the Percy Society. The manuscript was, in Mr. Wright's opinion, "written in the latter half of the fifteenth century, probably during the period intervening between the latter end of the reign of Henry VI [1421-1471], and the beginning of that of Henry VII [1457-1509]." There is another copy in a manuscript of the same period preserved in the Advocates' Library, Edinburgh. The easy flow of the verse, the grace of expression, and the refinement of the piece generally, are very remarkable, considering the period of production.
This Endernight I Saw A Sight - Rickert, 1914; Burden: "Ah, my dear Son," said Mary, "ah, my dear, (this page)
Also found in A. H. Bullen, A Christmas Garland (London: John C. Nimmo, 1885), p. 21, also with modernized spelling. He notes that this carol was printed in Sandys' Christmas Carols, from Add. Ms. 5165 (ancient songs temp Henry VII and VIII). He also notes, at page 252, "The MS. from which this piece is taken contains a large collection of church-services, hymns, carols, and songs, — with music. It formerly belonged to Joseph Ritson, who presented it to the British Museum. The collection deserves to be printed in full."