The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

To Thee Who Wast Christ's Own Darling

For St. John the Evangelist

Words: English Traditional from the Hill Ms.

Music: Not Stated

Source: Jessie L. Weston, ed., Old English Carols from the Hill MS. [Balliol College MS. 354] Translated by Jessie L. Weston. (London: David Nutt, 1911), Carol # XXIII, p. 42.

Pray JOY us to the Prince of Peace,
Amice Christi Johannes!

1. To thee who wast Christ's own darling,
Man and Maid alike, I bring
Homage, and from heart would sing
Amice Christi Johannes!

2. For that he was so pure a maid,
On Christ's own breast asleep he laid,
God's secrets were to him displayed
Amice Christi Johannes!

3. When Christ to Pilate's house was brought,
That virgin knight forsook him naught,
To die with Him was all his thought
Amice Christi Johannes!

4. Christ's Mother in his care was laid,
Fit mate a maiden for a Maid,
Now pray we to him for his aid
Amice 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.

Weston's apparent source was Ewald Flügel, ed., “Liedersammlungen des XVI Jahrhunderts, Besonders Aus Der Zeit Heinrichs VIII. III. 6. Die lieder des Balliol Ms. 354,” in Eugen Einenkel, ed., Anglia - Zeitschrift für englische Philologie enthaltend Beitrage zur Geschlicht der englischen Sprache und Literatur. Band XXVI. (Halle: Max Niemeyer, 1903), p. 237. This work is available at both Internet Archive and Google Books.

See also Roman Dyboski, ed. Songs, Carols and Other Miscellaneous Poems from the Balliol MS. 354, Richard Hill’s Commonplace Book. Early English Text Society Extra Series No. CI (London: Published for the Early English Text Society by Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., Ltd., 1907, issued in 1908), p. 172. Over 103 songs of great variety, including 62 "sacred songs and carols." Available at Internet Archive and Google Books.

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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