The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

The King In The Cradle

From Byrd's Psalmes, Sonets, etc., A.D. 1588

Source: Harrison S. Morris, ed., In The Yule-Log Glow--Book 3; Christmas Poems from 'round the World. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1900. Project Gutenberg eText # 20586.

My sweet little baby, what meanest thou to cry?
Be still, my blessed babe, though cause thou hast to mourn,
Whose blood most innocent to shed the cruel king hath sworn;
And lo, alas! behold what slaughter he doth make,
Shedding the blood of infants all, sweet Saviour, for thy sake.
A King, a King is born, they say, which King this king would kill:
O woe and woful heavy day when wretches have their will!
    Lulla, la lulla, lulla lullaby.

Three kings this King of kings to see are come from far,
To each unknown, with offerings great, by guiding of a star;
And shepherds heard the song, which angels bright did sing,
Giving all glory unto God for coming of this King,
Which must be made away--King Herod would him kill;
O woe and woful heavy day when wretches have their will?
    Lulla, la lulla, lulla lullaby.

Lo, lo, my little babe, be still, lament no more;
From fury thou shalt step aside, help have we still in store:
We heavenly warning have some other soil to seek;
From death must fly the Lord of life, as lamb both mild and meek:
Thus must my babe obey the king that would him kill;
O woe and woful heavy day when wretches have their will!
    Lulla, la lulla, lulla lullaby.

But thou shalt live and reign, as sibyls hath foresaid,
As all the prophets prophesy, whose mother, yet a maid
And perfect virgin pure, with her breasts shall upbreed
Both God and man that all hath made, the son of heavenly seed:
Whom caitives none can 'tray, whom tyrants none can kill:
O joy and joyful happy day when wretches want their will!
    Lulla, la lulla, lulla lullaby.

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