The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

To Thee Now, Christ's Dear Darling

For St. John the Evangelist

Words: English Traditional, Before 1529, from Balliol Ms. 354

Source: Edith Rickert, Ancient English Christmas Carols: 1400-1700 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1914), p. 126.

Compare: To the now, Crystys der derlyng - Thomas Wright

Pray for us to the Prince of peace,
Amice Christi, Johannes

1. To thee now, Christ's dear darling,
That wert maiden2 both old and ying,
My heart is set a song 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 nought,
To die with Him was all thy thought,
    Amice Christi, Johannes.

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

Notes from Rickert:

1. In another version the third person is used throughout. Return

2. Bachelor. 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.

J. A. Fuller Maitland, English Carols of the Fifteenth Century. London: The Leadenhall Press, E.C., ca. 1891, XII.

Carol in Original Form From a 15th Century Manuscript

Carol in Modern Form

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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