The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Tyrle, Tyrlow, Tyrle, Tyrlow

For Christmas Eve

Words and Music: English Traditional, before 1536
Bodleian Library. MA. Eng. Poet. e. 1. XV Cent.

Compare: As I Out Rode This Enders Night

Source: Edith Rickert, Ancient English Christmas Carols: 1400-1700 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1914), pp. 97-98.

Tyrle, tyrlow, tyrle, tyrlow,
So merrily the shepherds began to blow

1. About the field they piped right,
So merrily the shepherds began to blow;
Adown from heaven that is so high --
    Tyrle, tyrlow, (tyrle, tyrlow)!

2. Of angels there came a company,
With merry songs and melody.
The shepherds anon gan them aspy.1
    Tyrle, tyrlow, (tyrle, tyrlow)!

3. Gloria in excelsis, the angels sang,
And said that peace was present among,
To every man that to the faith would fong.2
    Tyrle, tyrlow, (tyrle, tyrlow)!

4. The shepherds hied them to Bethlehem,
To see that blessed sun His beam;
And there they found that glorious stream.3
    Tyrle, tyrlow, (tyrle, tyrlow)!

5. Now pray we to that meke Child,
And to His mother that is so mild,
The which was never defiled,
    Tyrle, tyrlow, (tyrle, tyrlow)!

6. That we may come unto His bliss,
Where joy shall never miss,
Then may we sing in Paradise:
    Tyrle, tyrlow, (tyrle, tyrlow)!

7. I pray you all that be here,
For to sing and make good cheer,
In the worship of God this year.
    Tyrle, tyrlow, (tyrle, tyrlow)!


Notes from Rickert:

1. Began to see them. Return

2. Accept.  Return

3. star, or leme=light. Return

Editor's Note:

Versions of this carol occur in three known manuscripts, one of which has been lost. Some versions are composites from two or three manuscripts, such as Terly Terlow, Terly Terlow (Chambers & Sidgwick). Other versions on this website include:

I. Oxford, Bodleian Library Eng. poet. e.1

II. Oxford, Balliol College 354

III. Coventry, MS formerly owned by Thomas Sharp (burned in 1879 according to DIMEV). Versions from Thomas Sharp, Hardin Craig, and Alfred William Pollard.

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