The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

This Endris Night

For Christmas Eve, For Christmas

Version 2
Compare: This Endris Night (Version 1)

Alternate Title: The Virgin And Child

For Christmas

Words and Music: English Traditional, Fifteenth Century
National Library of Scotland. MS. Advocates 19. 3. 1. XV Century.

Source: William Henry Husk, Songs of the Nativity (London: John Camden Hotten, 1868)

This endris1 night
I saw a sight,
  A star as bright as day;
And ever among
A maiden sung,
  Lullay, by by, lullay.

1. This lovely lady sat and sang, and to her Child [she] said --
"My son, my brother, my father dear, why lyest Thou thus in hayd.2
My sweet bird,2a
       Thus it is betide
           Though thou be king veray;3
        But, nevertheless,
        I will not cease
            To sing, by by, lullay."

2. The Child then spake in His talking, and to His mother said --
"I bekyd4 am King, in crib5 there I be laid:
        For Angels bright
        Down to Me light,
            Thou knowest it is no nay,6
        And of that sight
        Thou mayst be light7
            To sing, by by, lullay."

3. "Now, sweet Son, since Thou art King, why art Thou laid in stall?
Why not Thou ordained Thy bedding in some great king his hall?
        Me thinketh it is right
        That king or knight
            Should lie in good array;
        And then among
        It were no wrong
            To sing, by by, lullay."

4. "Mary, mother, I am thy child, though I be laid in stall,
Lords and dukes shall worship Me, and so shall kings all;
        Yet shall we see
        That kings three
            Shall come the twelfth day;
        For this behest
        Give me thy breast
            And sing, by by, lullay."

5. "Now tell me, sweet Son, I three pray, Thou art my love and dear,
How should I keep Thee to Thy pay8, and make Thee glad of cheer;
        For all Thy will
        I would fulfil
            Thou witest9 full well in fay,10
        And for all this
        I will thee kiss
            And sing, by by, lullay."

6. "My mother dear, when time it be, thou take Me up aloft,
And set Me upon thy knee, and handle Me full soft;
        And in thy arm
        Thou wilt me warm,
            And keep [me] night and day;
        If I weep
        And may not sleep,
            Thou sing, by by, lullay."

7. "Now, sweet Son, since it is so, that all thing is at Thy will,
I pray thee grant me a boon, if it be both right and skill,11
        That child or man
        That will or can
            Be merry upon my day;
        To bliss them bring,
        And I shall sing
            Lullay, by by, lullay."

Footnotes from Husk (except as noted):

1. Last. Return

2. Hay. Return

2a. According to Bullen, often used as a term of endearment. Return

3. True. Return

4. I am renowned as. Bullen gives "it happens that I am king." Return

5. Manger. Return

6. Not to be denied. Return

7. Quick. Return

8. Satisfaction, according to Husk. Bullen and Rickert give "content." Return

9. Knowest. Return

10. Faith. Return

11. Reasonable, according to Husk. Bullen gives "fitting, reasonable." Rickert gives "proper." Return

Sheet Music to "This Endris Night" from Martin Shaw and Percy Dearmer, The English Carol Book, Second Series (London: A. R. Mowbray & Co., Ltd., 1913), Carol #51
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF

Note from Shaw and Dearmer: This tune will be sung twice through, without pause, for the second and following verses.

Note regarding the Faux Bourdon:  It is suggested that this Faux Bourdon be sung to – (a) the second half of verse 3; (b) the whole of verse 5 (sing F. B. twice); (c) the whole of verse 7 (sing F. B. twice). The carol may then be shortened, if necessary, by the omission of verses 5 and 6.

Editor's Note:

There are numerous carols with a very similar title, and at least five manuscript sources for versions of these two songs, including, but not limited to:

1. Versions from Addit. Ms. 5465, British Library:

2. Versions from Ms. Eng. Poet. e. 1.:

3. Versions from the Advocates Library, Edinburgh:

4. A Version from the Ms. Royal Appx. 58:

5. A Version from the Balliol MS. 354, the Richard Hill Commonplace Book:

6. A Version from Ritson's Manuscript, Add. MS 5665

Because of the similarity of the texts from Add. MS 5465 (Fairfax Ms.) and Add. MS 5665 (Ritson's Ms.), it is impossible to determine the source of Edith Rickert's second version of this carol, This Endernight I Saw A Sight (Burden: "Ah, my dear Son," said Mary, "ah, my dear,), pp. 62-63.

Husk's Note:

This carol is contained in a very curious manuscript copy of Songs and Carols, 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.

Also found in Edith Rickert, Ancient English Christmas Carols: 1400-1700 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1914), p. 59 as This Endernight I Saw A Sight. For the definition of Endernight Rickert gives "This other night, i.e., recently." She also adds this verse:

8. "My mother sheen, of heaven queen, your asking shall I speed,
So that the mirth displease me not, in words nor yet in deed,
    Sing what ye will,
    So that my fulfill,
        My ten commandments ay;
    Ay you for to please,
    Let them not cease
        To sing, by, baby, lullay."

Also found in A. H. Bullen, A Christmas Garland (London: John C. Nimmo, 1885), p. 15, who also notes that this carol is from Songs and Carols, now first printed from a manuscript of the fifteenth century; Edited by Thomas Wright, 1847. (Percy Society Publications).

Bullen gives the following note concerning the reference in the fourth verse to the "kings three":

The names of the three kings were Melchior, Gaspar, and Balthazar. The first was old, with grey hair and a long beard: his offering was gold. Gaspar, who was young and beardless, brought frankincense ; and Balthazar, who was of a swarthy complexion, offered myrrh. Gold was symbolical of kingship, frankincense of divinity, and myrrh of humanity. The bodies of the three kings were taken, about three hundred years after their death, by the Empress Helena to Constantinople; thence by Eustatius to Milan; afterwards by Renaldus the bishop to Cologne, or Collein. Hence they were commonly called the Three Kings of Collein. There is an old carol about the Three Kings. Wright, in his collection of “Songs and Carols” published by the Percy Society, has printed one version of it [Now ye Crystemas y-cum - Thomas Wright] ...

He goes on to say that the text of "the following copy" (from Notes and Queries, 6th Series, vi. 505-7) is fuller and more accurate. The version which he then gives is substantially the same as that found in Rickert, Now Is Christmas Ycome. Compare: Now ys Crystemas y-cum (Sandys, 1852).

Of course, the Bible does not give the names of the Kings, nor their number (merely the number of gifts presented to the Child).

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