The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Tidings True, Come Glad And New

For Advent, Christmas

The Salutation Carol of the Angel Gabriel
Based on Luke 1:26-38,
The Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Words in imitation of the original by the Rev. R. F. Littledale, M.A., LL.D.”

Music: The Melody was obtained from Thomas Wright, antiquarian, and set to four voices by Edmund Sedding.
See additional note below.

Source: Antient Carols for Christmas and Other Tides Arranged For Four Voices by Edmund Sedding. Second Edition. (London: Masters and Son, 1863), pp. 5-7.

Gabryell of hyghe degree,
Cam down from the TRENITE,
To Nazareth in Galilee,
With Nova


Nowell! Nowell! Nowell! Nowell! 1
This is the salutation made by Angel Gabriel.


1. Tidings true, come glad and new, sent from the Trinity,
By Gabriel to Nazareth, city of Galilee;
A Virgin clean of fairest sheen, thro' Her humility,
The Word receiv'd, and hath conceiv'd Incarnate Deity.


Nowell! Nowell! Nowell! Nowell! Sing to Emmanuel.
This is the salutation made by Angel Gabriel.

2. When appeared Gabriel first before our Lady's eyes,
He reverence made, and homage paid, in meek and seemly wise,
And said, Lady, from Heaven on high, the Palace of the KING,
Who born of Thee full soon shall be, a message here I bring.

Chorus:—Nowell, &c.

3. Hail! Thou blessed Maiden, most mild of Human race,
Hail! sacred Shrine of Godhead, hail, Mirror of all grace,
Hail! Virgin pure, the word is sure, and quickly shalt Thou bear
The KING of Kings, Who gladness brings, and does away with care.

Chorus:—Nowell, &c.

4. Then at his saying troubled, but in no wise afraid,
With mind discreet Her answer meet to Gabriel She made,
Tell unto Me, how this shall be, that I should bear a CHILD,
Who aye have been a Maiden clean, and am no whit defiled.

Chorus:—Nowell, &c.

5. Then the bright Archangel spake unto that lowly May,
O Lady dear, be of good cheer, nor dread Thou what I say,
Within Thy holy Body the LORD Himself shall dwell,
Who by His Birth joins Heaven and Earth, Who is Emmanuel.

Chorus:—Nowell, &c.

6. Then unto the Archangel full meekly did She say,
When GOD commands, into His Hands I yield Me, and obey;
Behold Me here in lowliness, the Handmaid of the LORD,
And unto Me thus let it be, according to thy word.

Chorus:—Nowell, &c.


1. At this point, Mr. Sedding had a footnote that read:

    See Preface to Antient Christmas Carols.

However, in the Preface, there was no discussion of the word "Nowell." Mr. Sedding wrote that that discussion had taken place in the Preface to the First Set, published in 1860. We are attempting to obtain a copy on Inter-library Loan. Return.

Sheet Music from Antient Carols for Christmas and Other Tides Arranged For Four Voices by Edmund Sedding. Second Edition. (London: Masters and Son, 1863), pp. 5-7.

ACC-II-05.jpg (249780 bytes) ACC-II-06.jpg (354274 bytes) ACC-II-07.jpg (425521 bytes)

Concerning the music, Mr. Sedding wrote:

The use of the melody of No. III, has been kindly granted me by Thomas Wright, Esq., M.A., F.R.S., and is taken from a manuscript aforetime in his possession. The Carol is let to sacred words, but thereto is appended this note ;-

This is the tewyn for the song foloyng, yf so be that ye wyll have another tewyn, it may be at your plesure for I have set all the song.

[“This is the tune for the song following; if so be that ye will have another tune, it may be at your pleasure, for I have set all the song.”]

This song foloyng is a right quaint drinking chanson, and that the reader may at his pleasure enjoy the fulsome ravishment of both words and musick of the antique times I have reprinted the whole of it:-

"Bryng us in good ale, good ale,
For our Blyssyd Lady sak,
Bryng us in good ale.

Bryne us in no browne bred, for that is made of brane,
Nor bryng us in no whyt bred, for theriun is no game.
            But bryng us in good ale.
            etc. etc. etc.

See: Bryne Us In No Browne Bred (Thomas Wright, 1847).

The manuscript in question, now at the Bodleian Library, was MS. Eng. poet. See: Nowell, Nowell, Nowell (Thomas Wright, Song #56a, 1847).

Editor's Note.

Versions of this carol on this site:

Richard L. Greene gives us 24 Carols of the Annunciation in his The Early English Carols (Oxford, 1935), #234-#257, pp. 166-184.

See in the Bodleian Library, MS. Eng. poet. e. 1 (scroll down to get to "e. 1"), c. 1460-1480. There is a single image, fol. 41v, described as "Musical notation in a minstrel's manuscript; the text begins "Nowell, nowell, nowell, pis is pe salutacyon of pe angel gabryell" with "Bryng us in good ale" in lower margin, c. 1460-90; anglicana script." It doesn't appear that the entire volume has been scanned, or, if so, that it is readily available for viewing.

fol_41v.jpg (79890 bytes)

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