The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

To Thee Now, Christës Dear Darling

For St. John the Evangelist

Words: English Traditional from Trinity College O.3.58 (1230), Cambridge UK
Modern Text from Fuller Maitland:
For Middle English version, see: To The Now Cristis Dere Derlyng

Music: "Prey for us the prynce of pees"

Source: J. A. Fuller Maitland, ed., English Carols of the Fifteenth Century (London: The Leadenhall Press, E.C., ca. 1891), pp. 52-53.

Pray for us the Prince of Peace,
Amice Christi Johannes1.

1. To thee now, Christës dear darling,
That wert a maiden both old and young,
My heart is set to thee to sing,
    Amice Christi Johannes.

2. For thou wert so clean a maid
The secrets of heaven were to thee said
When on Christ's breast thou wert laid
    Amice Christi Johannes.

3. When Christ before Pilate was brought
Thou clean of heart, forsook him not,
To die with Him was all thy thought,
    Amice Christi Johannes.

4. Christ's mother thou took'st home with thee,
Maiden, a Maiden's friend to be,
Thou be our help we pray to thee,
    Amice Christi Johannes.

Footnote from Fuller Maitland:

1. John, friend of Christ. Return

Sheet Music from J. A. Fuller Maitland, English Carols of the Fifteenth Century. (London: The Leadenhall Press, E.C., ca. 1891), Carol XII.

Carol in Original Form From a 15th Century Manuscript, pp. 24-25

Carol in Modern Form, pp. 52-53

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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