The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

To the now, Crystys der derlyng

For St. John the Evangelist

Words and Music: Traditional English
Bodleian Library. MS. Eng. Poet. e. 1. XV Century.

Source: Thomas Wright, Songs and Carols Now First Printed, From a Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century (London: The Percy Society, 1847), Song #x, printed verbatim from a manuscript probably owned by a professional musician, and apparently written in the latter half of the fifteenth century, circa 1471-1485.

This carol requires the installation of the "Junicode" font for best display. You can obtain a copy of this font from Old English at the University of Virginia, or right click here, and then select "Save File As" to save a copy of the zipped file to your computer. See notes in F A Q.

Compare: To Thee Now, Christ's Dear Darling (Rickert)

    Pray for us, thou prynce of pes, amici Christi, Johannes.

To the now, Crystys der derlyng,
That was a mayd bothe old and 3yng,
Myn hert is sett for to syng,
            Amici Christi, Johannes.

For he was so clene a maye,
On Crystys brest aslepe he laye,
The prevyteys of heyn ther he saye,
            Amici Christi, Johannes.

Qwhen Cryst before Pilate was browte,
Hys clene mayd forsoke hym nowte,
To deye with hym was all hys thowte,
            Amici Christi, Johannes.

Crystys modr was hym betake,
Won mayd to be anodyris make,
To help that we b enott forsake,
            Amici Christi, Johannes.

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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