The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

This Enders* Night

For Christmas

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 withouten fere,
    Unto her Son gan say:
'My Son, my Lord, my Father dear
    Why liest Thou in hay?

Fabourdon (Second half of Verses) Chorus

        Methink 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 withouten nay,
    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 Father dear,
    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 heaven queen,
    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.

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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.

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Footnote from Rev. Terry:

*Endere in MS.

Notes from Rev. Terry:

Editor's Note.

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,
A star as bright as day;
And ever among
A maiden sung.
By, by Baby lullay.

1. This Virgin clere withouten fere,
     Unto her Son gan say:
'My Son, my Lord, my Father dear
     Why liest Thou in hay?

          Methink be right that king and knight
               Should lie in rich array;
          Yet nevertheless I will not cease
               To sing by by lullay!

This Endris Night

Burden:
This endris
night I saw a sight,
A star as bright as day,
And ev'r among, a maiden sung,
"Lully, bye bye, lullay."

1. This lovely lady sat and sang,
And to her child did say,
"My son, my brother, father dear,
Why liest thou thus in hay?


This Endernight I Saw A Sight

"Ah, my dear Son," said Mary, "ah, my dear,
Kiss Thy mother, Jesu, with a laughing cheer."

1. This endernight I saw a sight,
All in my sleep:
Mary, that may, she sang lullay
And sore did weep;
To keep she sought full fast about
Her Son from cold.
Joseph said, "Wife, my joy, my life,
Say what ye would."
"Nothing, my spouse, is in this house
Unto my pay;
My Son a king, that made all thing,
Lieth in hay.
"Ah, my dear Son," said Mary, "ah, my dear,
Kiss Thy mother, Jesu, with a laughing cheer."

 

Version 1: This Endere Night

Husk's Note:

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.

Version 2:

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."

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