The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

When Righteous Joseph Wedded Was

For Christmas

Version 2

Sheet Music from Richard R. Terry, Gilbert and Sandys' Christmas Carols (London: Burns, Oates & Washbourne, Ltd., 1931). "Words and Melody from Sandys' 'Christmas Carols' (1833)"
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF

Source: William Sandys, Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern (London: Richard Beckley, 1833), p. 71

1. When righteous Joseph wedded was
    To Israel's Hebrew maid,
A glorious Angel from Heaven came,
    Who to the Virgin said:
Hail, blessed Mary, full of grace,
    The Lord remain with thee,
Thou shalt conceive and bear a Son,
    Our Saviour for to be.

Sing we all, both great and small,
    Noel, Noel, Noel,
We may rejoice to hear the voice
    Of the Angel Gabriel.

2. It's wondrous strange, quoth Mary then,
    I should conceive and breed,
Being never touched by mortal man,
    But pure in thought and deed.
Fear not, quoth Gabriel by and by,
    It is no work of man,
But was ordain'd by God at first
    Before the world began. Chorus

3. This Heavenly message she believed,
    And did to Jury go,
Three months there with her friends to stay,
    God's blessed will to know;
And then returned to Joseph back,
        Her husband meek and mild,
Who thought it strange his wife should be
    Untouch'd thus gone with child. Chorus

4. Then sought he for to shun that shame,
    He thought her to forsake,
But that God's Angel in his sleep
    To him thus did relate:
Fear not, just Joseph, this thy wife
    Is still a spotless maid,
And no consent to sin, quoth he,
    Against her can be laid. Chorus

5. For she is pure both maid and wife,
    And Mother of God's own Heir,
The Babe of Heaven, and blessed Lamb,
    Of Israel's flocks so fair,
To save lost sheep from Satan's fold,
    Whom Adam lost by fraud,
When first in Eden Paradise
    The Lord had on him bestowed. Chorus

6. Sing praises all, both old and young,
    To him who wrought such things,
And that without the help of man
    Sent us the King of Kings;
Who is of such commanding power,
    That by his Word can quell
The world, the flesh, and by his death
    Hath conquer'd Death and Hell. Chorus

Sheet Music from Sandys, 1833

Sheet Music from Richard R. Terry, Gilbert and Sandys' Christmas Carols (London: Burns, Oates & Washbourne, Ltd., 1931)
"Words and Melody from Sandys' 'Christmas Carols' (1833)"
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF

Rev. Terry noted, at the beginning of the Chorus: "Sandys' music stops at this point, making no provision for the words of the chorus (which is printed with the words of the carol in the body of the book, apart from the music). But as it is obvious that he meant the chorus to be sung to the second half of the tune (as is the case in Gilbert's setting of the same words), I have repeated the section here."

Sheet Music from Richard Runciman Terry, Two Hundred Folk Carols (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Limited, 1933), pp. 12-13.

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When Righteous Joseph Wedded Was - Terry

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Editor's Note:

This very old carol was found in several collections of English Broadsides. These Broadsides are frequently an important source for collectors, together with the recollections of local singers and musicians. There are four "Broadside" versions of "When Righteous Joseph" available on this web site, plus versions of this song published in several carol collections. Versions on this site include:

This was noted as one of several "doubting Joseph" carols by Hugh Keyte and Andrew Parrott including The Cherry Tree Carols, Joseph Being An Aged Man, Joseph Being An Old Man Truly, and Joseph Was An Old Man. See The New Oxford Book of Carols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), Carol #129, pp. 446-8.

See: Christmas Mummers' Carol - Broadwood (Journal of the Folk Song Society, Vol. 2, 1905)

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