The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Thys endris nyȝth

For Christmas Eve, For Christmas

Words: English Traditional from Ms. Eng. Poet. e. 1.

Music: Not Stated

Source: Thomas Wright, Songs and Carols Now First Printed, From a Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century (London: The Percy Society, 1847), Song #10, printed verbatim from a manuscript probably owned by a professional musician, and apparently written in the latter half of the fifteenth century, circa 1471-1485.

This carol requires the installation of the "Junicode" fond for best display. You can obtain a copy of this font from Old English at the University of Virginia, or right click here, and then select "Save File As" to save a copy of the zipped file to your computer. See notes in F A Q.

Thys endris nyȝth
I saw a syȝth,
    A stare as bryȝt as day;
And ever among
A mayden song
    Lullay, by by, lullay.

1. This lovely lady sat and song, and to hyr chyld sayd,
My sone, my broder, my fader der, why lyest thou thus in haynd
    My swete byrd,
    Thus it ys betyde,
        Thow thou be kynd veray;
    But nevertheles
    I wyl not ses
        To syng, by by, lyllay.

2. The chyld than spak in histalkyng, and to hys moder sayd,
I bekydde am kyng in crybbe thar I be layd.
    For aungeiles bryȝt
    Done to my lyȝt
        Thou knowest it ys no nay;
    And of that syȝt
    Thou mayst be lyȝt
        To syng, by by, lullay.

3. Now, swet son, syn thou art kyng, why art thou layd in stall?
Why ne thou ordende thi beddyng in sum gret kynges hall?
    Me thynkyth it is ryȝt,
    That kyng or knyght
        Shuld ly in good aray;
    And than among
    It wer no wrong
        To syng, by by, lullay.

4. Mary moder, I am thi chyld, thow I be layd in stall,
Lordes and dukes shal worsshyp me and so shall kynges all.
    ȝe shall well se
    That kynges thre
        Shall come the xij. day,
    For this behest
    ȝefe me thi brest,
        And syng, by by, lullay.

5. Now tell me, swet son, I the pray, thou art me leve and dere,
How shuld I kepe the to thy pay and mak the glad of chere.
    For all thi wyll
    I wold fullfyll
        Thou wetyste full well in fay,
    And for all thys,
    I wyll the kys,
        And syng, by by, lullay.

6. My der moder, whan tym it be, thou take me up on loft,
And set me upon thi kne, and handyll me full soft.
    And in thi arme
    Thou hyl me warme,
        And kepe nyȝt and day;
    If I wepe,
    And may not slepe,
        Thou syng, by by, lullay.

7. Now, swet son, syn it is so, that all thyng is at thi wyll,
I pray the graunte me a bone, yfit be both ryȝt and skyll.
    That chyld or man
    That wyl or kan
        Be mery upon my day,
    To blyss hem bryng,
    And I shal syng,
        Lullay, by by, lullay.

Note from Wright:

Another copy of this carol is printed in the Reliquiæ Antiquæ, vol. ii. [1845], p. 76, from a MS. in the Advocates' Library, Edinburgh, of the latter part of the fifteenth century. [See: This endurs ny3t I see a syght]

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.

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