The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

To Christ's Own Darling

For St. John the Evangelist

Words: English Traditional from the Hill Ms., Balliol College MS. 354

Music: Not Stated

Source: Mary Gertrude Segar, ed., A Mediaeval Anthology. (London, NY: Longmans, Green, 1915), Carol #LI, p. 103.

Pray for us to the Prince of Peace,
Amice Christi Johannes.

1. To Christ's own darling,
The which was maid both old and young,
My heart is set a song to sing:
    Amice Christi Johannes.

2. For he was so clean a maid
On Christ's breast asleep he laid,
Prophets of Heaven to him said :
    Amice Christi Johannes.

3. When Christ before Pilate was brought
This clean maid forsook Him nought!
To die with Him was all his thought :
    Amice Christi Johannes.

4. Christ's mother was him1 betake,2
A maid to be another's make3
Pray we to him that he us not forsake,
    Amice Christi Johannes.

Footnotes from Seger.

1. Him is here dative—to him. Return

2. betake, betaken, i.e. entrusted. Return

3. make, companion. Return

Editor's Note

The feast day of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist, occurs on December 27, within the traditional 12 days of Christmas. For more information, see Hymns To St. John The Evangelist.

This remarkable carol occurs in at least six manuscripts, among the largest number of manuscripts that any carol is represented in. This version, of course, is from the Richard Hill Common-place Book, Balliol Ms. 354. The full list of manuscripts, according to DIMEV, To thee now Christs dear darling, plus versions found on this website, is:

1. Oxford, Bodleian Library Eng. poet. e.1 (SC 29734), f. 40

2. Oxford, Balliol College Ms. 354

3. Cambridge UK, Trinity College O.3.58 (1230)

4. London, British Library Addit. 5665, ff. 37v-38

5. London, British Library Addit. 5665, ff. 48v-49

6. London, British Library Harley 4294, f. 81v1

There are additional versions from these manuscripts in volumes that are under copyright.

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