'Tis At Christmas Time, When Frost Is Out
For Christmas, For The Holy Innocents
Author: John Mason Neale, St. Thomas' Day,
December 21, 1850.
See: Additional Christmas Carols & Hymns of John Mason Neale
Music: To the tune of "What means this rosy
Meter: 86 86 86 86
Source: St. Margaret's Magazine, Volume 1. (London: Skeffington & Son, 1889), p. 327
A Christmas Carol
'Tis at Christmas time, when frost is out,
And the year is very old,
And icicles and snow-drifts make
This cold world seem more cold ;
At Christmas time that He was born,
Who came that He might bring
All them that love Him to the land
Of everlasting Spring.
'Tis at Christmas time, when holly shines
With green and prickly leaves,
And on its boughs a coronet
Of scarlet berries weavesó
At Christmas time we keep his feast
Who wore the robe of red,
Whereby the Martyr's blessed crown
Alone is purchased.
'Tis at Christmas time, when all things seem
So very pure and bright,
And fields are sparkling with the frost.
And earth is spotless white :
At Christmas time his day comes round,
Who purity put on.
As fields and trees their robes of snow.
The Apostle, sweet St. John.
And at Christmas time is our own bright day,
When all those children dear
Who died for Christ went up on high,
To begin a happier year ;
Blest Innocents ! like the flowers that now
In the ground so long have lain;
But surely as soon as April comes.
Shall wake and bloom again.
The following appeared at the bottom of the poem:
( This goes very well to the tune of "What means this rosy dawning?" in "Lays and Legends of the Nativity." )
The full title of the collection was Christmas carols, or, Lays and legends of the Nativity, old & new, grave and jolie. It was edited by Henry J. Gauntlett and published in London by C. Lonsdale, circa 1850. We have been unable to locate either this song or this collection.
Also found in John Mason Neale, Original Sequences, Hymns, and Other Ecclesiastical Verses (1866), pp. 92-93.
It was also reproduced, without attribution, in The Churchman's Companion, Part LXI, Volume XI. (London: Joseph Masters), January 1852, pp. 60-61, with the suggested tune of "O My Love Is Like A Red Red Rose."