The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Wolcum, Yole, Thou Mery Man

For Christmas

Words: Thomas Ashwell  (c. 1478 – after 1513 (possibly 1527?)), an English composer of the Renaissance
from the Sloane Ms. 2593, British Library, London

Music: Not Stated

Source: E. K. Chambers and F. Sidgwick, eds., Early English Lyrics  (London: A. H. Bullen, 1907), #CXXXIV, p. 232.

Wolcum, Yole, thou mery man,
In worchepe of this holy day !

Wolcum be thou, hevene king,
Wolcum, born in one morwening,
Wolcum, for whom we schall sing, 5
Wolcum, Yole !

Wolcum be ye, Stevene and Jon,
Wolcum, Innocentes everichone,
Wolcum, Thomas, marter one,
Wolcum, Yole ! 10

Wolcum be ye, good Newe Yere,
Wolcum, Twelfthe Day, both in fere,
Wolcum, seintes lefe and dere,
Wolcum, Yole !

Wolcum be ye, Candelmesse, 15
Wolcum be ye, quene of bliss,
Wolcum bothe to more and lesse,
Wolcum, Yole !

Wolcum be ye that arn here,
Wolcum alle and make good chere, 20
Wolcum alle another yere,
Wolcum, Yole !


12. in fere, together.

13. lefe, dear.

Copies of this carol on this web site:

Notes to CXXXIV, p. 373.
Sloane 2593. Printed Wright, W.C., 93 ; S.L.P., 4; Ritson (1790), 81 ; (1829), i. 140 ; Hazlitt-Ritson, 120. Another version amongst John Awdlay’s poems in Douce 302 is printed by W. Sandys, Christmastide, 218.

Extended Citations

Wright, W.C., 93 ;
Thomas Wright, ed., Songs and Carols from a Manuscript in the British Museum of the Fifteenth Century (Warton Club, 1842), Wolcum be thu, hevene kyng, p. 93. (Texts from Sloane 2593);

Wright, S.L.P., 4;
Thomas Wright, ed., Specimens of Lyric Poetry, composed in England in the reign of Edward the First (Percy Society, 1842), p. 4. [Texts from Harl. 2253.]

Ritson (1790), 81; 
Joseph Ritson, ed., Ancient Songs, from the time of King Henry the Third to the Revolution. (London: J. Johnson, 1790), Wolcum Be Thu, Hevene Kyng, p. 81. "Advertisement in 1829 edition says that this edition was printed in 1787, dated 1790, and published 1792."

[Ritson] (1829), i. 140; 
Joseph Ritson. ed., Ancient Songs and Ballads, from the reign of King Henry the Second to the Revolution. 2 Vols. (London: For Payne and Foss by Thomas Davison, 1829).

Hazlitt-Ritson, 120.
Joseph Ritson, ed., Ancient Songs and Ballads From the Reign of King Henry the Second to the Revolution. Third Edition, revised W. Carew Hazlitt. (London: Reeves and Turner, 1877).

W. Sandys, Christmastide, 218.
Wm. Sandys, Christmas-tide: It's History, Festivities, and Carols, With Their Music (London: John Russell Smith, 1852), Welcü Yole In Good Array (Welcü be þu heue kyng), p. 218. Attributed to Awdlay, from Douce 302.

Douce 302
Douce 302. Parchment, 10 7/8 x7 7/8. Religious poems and legends by John Awdlay, a blind and capellanus in Haghmon (Haughmond) Abbey, in Shropshire; he describes himself on f. 35 as ‘the furst prest to the lord Strange,' i.e. Richard Lestrange, Lord Strange of Knockin. Some of the poems are dated 1426, and the MS. may be not much later. It passed through the hands of William Wyatt, a minstrel of Coventry, and John Barker, ‘a chanon of Lawnd.' Its contents, says Madan (iv. 585-6), are very fully described in the 1840 [Bodleian] Catalogue. Halliwell printed extracts in the Percy Society' publications, vol. 14, in 1844, A new complete edition is in preparation by J. E. Wülfing for the E.E.T.S. [No. LVII and note on CXXXIV.]

Sloane 2593.
Sloane 2593. Paper, 5 3/4 x 4 1/2. Songs and carols, seventy-four in number, of which three are in Latin, and the rest in English. Mainly religious or moral, but some trivial and satirical. Wright considered it to be the song-book of a minstrel (cf. Eng. Poet. e. 1) ; the last folio bears the name ‘Johannes Bardel' or ‘Bradel,' written in the same hand as the rest of the MS. Wright traces one poem to 1362-9, but probably this and others were traditional when written down ; he dates the handwriting temp. Henry VI. According to Bradley-Stratmann, the MS. was written in Warwickshire at the beginning of the XV cent. Variants of some poems appear in Eng. Poet. e. i. Extracts in Ritson (1790), Wright, Carols (1836), and S.L.P., Rel. Ant., and Fehr in Archiv, cvii. 48; Edited complete by Wright for the Warton Club in 1856 ; and by B. Fehr in Archiv, cix. 33 ; who does not print poems extracted as above, but is ignorant of the Warton Club print. Source: Notes, pp. 303-304.

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