For Christmas Eve, For Christmas
Words: "Old English," possibly from from Ms. Eng. Poet. e. 1.
Music: C. Steggall
Source: Henry Ramsden Bramley and John Stainer, Christmas Carols New and Old, Second Series (London: Novello, Ewer & Co., 1871), Carol #25
On yester night I saw a sight,
A star as bright as day;
And all along, I heard a song,
Lullay, by by, lullay, lullay, lullay.
1. A lovely lady sat and sang,
And to her child she spake:
My Son, my Brother, Father dear,
It makes my heart to ache,
To sweet Thee there, so cold and bare,
A King upon this hay;
But hush Thy wail, I will not fail
To sing by by, lullay, lullay, to sing by by, lullay, lullay;
To sing by by lullay, lullay,
lullay, lullay, lullay, lullay, lullay.
2. The Child then spake whilst she did sing,
And to the maiden said:
"Right sure I am a mighty King,
Though in a crib My bed:
For angels bright,
Down to Me light;
Thou canst not say Me nay:
Then why so sad ?
Thou mayest be glad
To sing by by, lullay."
3. "Now, sweetest Lord, since Thou art King.
Why liest Thou in a stall ?
Why didst Thou not Thy cradle bring
To some great royal hall ?
Methinks 'tis right,
That king or knight
Should lie in good array;
And them among,
It were no wrong
To sing by by, lullay."
4. "My Mother Mary, thine I be,
Though I be laid in stall,
Both lords and dukes shall worship Me,
And so shall monarchs all:
Ye shall well see
That princes three,
Shall come on the twelfth day:
Then let Me rest
Upon thy breast,
And sing by by, lullay."
5. "Now tell me, sweetest Lord, I pray,
Thou art my love and dear,
How shall I nurse Thee to Thy mind,
And make Thee glad of cheer ?
For all Thy will
I would fulfil,
I need no more to say;
And for all this
I will Thee kiss,
And sing by by, lullay,"
6. "My Mother dear, when time it be,
Then take Me up aloft,
And set Me up upon thy knee,
And handle Me full soft;
And in thy arm,
Thou wilt Me warm,
And keep Me night and day:
And if I weep,
And may not sleep,
Thou sing by by, lullay."
7. "Now, sweetest Lord, since it is so,
That Thou art most of might,
I pray Thee grant a boon to me,
If it be meet and right;
That child or man
That will or can,
Be merry on this day;
To bliss them bring,
And I shall sing,
Lullay, by by, lullay."
Sheet Music from Henry Ramsden Bramley and John Stainer, Christmas Carols New and Old (London: Novello, Ewer & Co., ca 1871)
Bramley and Stainer do not identify the source of their version of this popular carol. Based on a comparison of the texts from five different manuscripts, the most likely source was Ms. Eng. Poet. e. 1.; see: Thys endris nyghth - Thomas Wright (1847).
There are numerous carols with a very similar title, and at least five manuscript sources for versions of these two songs, including, but not limited to:
1. Versions from Addit. Ms. 5465, British Library:
This Endnes Nyght - William Sandys, 1833, in Middle English; Burden: A, My Dere Son, from Sandys, 1833
2. Versions from Ms. Eng. Poet. e. 1.:
Thys endris nyghth - Thomas Wright (1847); First verse: This lovely lady sat and song
This Endris Night I Saw A Sight - Chambers & Sidgwick; First verse: This lovely lady sat and song
This Winter's Night, I Saw A Sight - Joshua Sylvester, 1861; First verse: This lovely lady sang and sang.
This Endris Night - Version 1, with notes; Source lost; First verse: This lovely lady sat and sang
The Virgin and Child - Bramley and Stainer, Second Series, Carol #25, ca. 1871, with sheet music; First Verse: A lovely lady sat and sang
3. Versions from the Advocates Library, Edinburgh:
This endurs ny3t I see a syght - Wright, 1845; First Line: This lovely lady sete and song
This Endris Night - Version 2 - William Henry Husk, 1868, with sheet music and note; First verse: This lovely lady sat and sang. Sheet Music is from Martin Shaw and Percy Dearmer, The English Carol Book, Second Series (London: A. R. Mowbray & Co., Ltd., 1913), Carol #51.
4. A Version from the Ms. Royal Appx. 58:
5. A Version from the Balliol MS. 354, the Richard Hill Commonplace Book:
This Enders Nyght - Balliol 354 - Ewald Flügel
A Lovely Lady Sat and Sung - Weston
6. A Version from Ritson's Manuscript, Add. MS 5665
This Endes Night I Saw A Sight - Bullen
Because of the similarity of the texts from Add. MS 5465 (Fairfax Ms.) and Add. MS 5665 (Ritson's Ms.), it is impossible to determine the source of Edith Rickert's second version of this carol, This Endernight I Saw A Sight (Burden: "Ah, my dear Son," said Mary, "ah, my dear,), pp. 62-63.
The burden of this carol shares some similarity with the carol On Yesternight I Saw A Sight. The similarity ended there.
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