The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

When Righteous Joseph Wedded Was

Version 1
See below for versions from English Broadsides.

Words and Music: English Traditional
Sheet Music from
Richard R. Terry, Gilbert and Sandys' Christmas Carols (London: Burns, Oates & Washbourne, Ltd., 1931), #12
"Words and Melody from Gilbert's 'Christmas Carols' (1822)"
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Source: Davies Gilbert, Some Ancient Christmas Carols. London: John Nichols And Son, Second Edition, 1823.
Also compared to Davies Gilbert, "Some Ancient Christmas Carols."
London: Nichols and Sons, 1822, reprinted Boston: Elibron Classics, 2007.
The 1822 edition has been scanned and posted on Google Books.

1. When righteous Joseph wedded was
    To Israel's Hebrew maid,
The Angel Gabriel came from Heav'n,
    And to the Virgin said:
Hail, blessed Mary, full of grace,
    The Lord remain on thee;
Thou shalt conceive and bear a Son,
    Our Saviour for to be.

Chorus.
Then sing your all, both great and small,
    Now well, now well, now well;
We may rejoice to hear the voice
    Of the Angel Gabriel.

2. 'Tis wondrous strange, said Mary then,
    I should conceive and breed,
Being never touched by mortal man,
    But pure in word and deed.
The Angel Gabriel thus replied,
    'Tis not the work of man,
But as the Lord in Heav'n decreed,
    Before the world began. Chorus.

3. This Heavenly message she believ'd,
    And did to Jury go;
There three months with her friends to stay,
    God's blessed will to show;
And then return'd to Joseph back,
    Her husband meek and mild,
Who thought it strange his wife should be
    Untouch'd and yet with child. Chorus.

4. Then Joseph he to shun the shame,
    Thought her for to forsake,
But then God's Angel in a dream
    His mind did undertake.
Fear not, just Joseph, this thy wife
    Is still a spotless maid;
And not consent of sin, said 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 Heav'n and blessed lamb
    Of Israel's flock so fair.
To save lost man from Satan's fold,
    Which Adam lost by thrall,
When first in Eden Paradise
    Did forfeit by the fall. Chorus.

6. Thus Mary and her husband kind
    Together did remain,
Until the time of Jesus birth,
    As Scriptures doth make plain.
As mother, wife, and virtuous maid,
    Our Saviour sweet conceiv'd;
And in due time to bring us him,
    Of whom we were bereav'd. Chorus.

7. Sing praises all, both young and old,
    To him that wrought such things;
And all without the means of man,
    Sent us the King of Kings;
Who is of such a spirit bless'd,
    That with his might did quell,
The world, the flesh, and by his death,
    Did conquer death and hell. Chorus.

Sheet Music from Davies Gilbert, Some Ancient Christmas Carols (London: John Nichols And Son, First Edition, 1822)

Gilbert_When-righteous-01_1822.jpg (65842 bytes) Gilbert_When-righteous-02_1822.jpg (55577 bytes)

Sheet Music From Davies Gilbert, Some Ancient Christmas Carols. London: John Nichols And Son, Second Edition, 1823.

Sheet Music from Richard R. Terry, Gilbert and Sandys' Christmas Carols (London: Burns, Oates & Washbourne, Ltd., 1931), #12
"Words and Melody from Gilbert's 'Christmas Carols' (1822)"
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Sheet Music from Richard Runciman Terry, Two Hundred Folk Carols (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Limited, 1933), pp. 10-11.

005a-When_Righteous_Joseph-V1.jpg (159408 bytes) 005b-When_Righteous_Joseph-V1.jpg (120904 bytes)

Sheet Music from Ralph Dunstan, The Cornish Song Book (London: Reid Bros., Ltd., 1929), Version 1, p. 122. Dunstan writes "From a MS. Collection of Carols (c. 1830)."
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Due to the complexity of this arrangement, no lyrics are included.

Sheet Music from Ralph Dunstan, The Cornish Song Book (London: Reid Bros., Ltd., 1929), Version 2, p. 122-3. Dunstan notes: "Traditional Cornish Melody sung to Rev. G. H. Doble, M.A., Wendron, by Elizabeth Hocking (of Redruth) aged 84. Arr. by Ralph Dunstan, 1924."
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Richard R. Terry, Gilbert and Sandys' Christmas Carols

When Righteous Joseph Wedded Was - Terry

Ralph Dunstan, The Cornish Song Book, Version 1

When Righteous Joseph Wedded Was - Dunstan - Version 1

Ralph Dunstan, The Cornish Song Book, Version 2

When Righteous Joseph Wedded Was - Dunstan - Version 2

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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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