The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

To The Now Cristes Derlyng

For St. John the Evangelist

Words: English Traditional from British Library Addit. MS 5665 (Ritson's Manuscript), Fol. 37b, 38a

Music: Not Stated

Source: Bernhard Fehr, “Die Lieder der Hs. Add. 5665 (Ritson’s Folio-MS).” Archiv für das Studium der neueren Sprachen und Literaturen 106 (1901), Carol #33 (34), p. 273.

"De lohanne"

Pray for vs thow prince of pesse
Amice cristi Johannes

1. To the now cristes derlyng
prince of pes the weche was mayden bothe olde and yong
mi soule ys sette to syng
    Amice Christi Johannes

2. On crists breste aslepe he lay
The prinets of heuen ther he say
ffor hes was so clene a may
    Amice Christi Johannes

3. Criste before pylet was brozste
The clene maydyn forsoke hym nozste
To dye with hym was all his thozste.
    Amice Christi Johannes

4. Crists moder was hym be take
A mayden to be a nothers ys make
Trozffe there helpe we shall not be forsake
    Amice Christi Johannes

Note from Fehr:

[44 (45) bringt das gleiche Lied ohne die beiden mittleren Strophen. Abweichungen 49 a: the weche were mayde — my sanle ys setle a song to syng — Be they oure help pat we be not forsake.]

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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