For Christmas Day in the Morning

For Christmas Day in the Morning

Original Text
Christmas Carols, Ancient and Modern, ed. William Sandys (London: Richard Beckley, 1833), pp. 74-75. PR 1195 C2S2 1973 Music Library Toronto.
2Was to three poor Shepherds in the fields as they lay;
3In fields where they lay keeping their sheep
4In a cold winter's night that was so deep.
5        Nowell, Nowell, Nowell, Nowell,
6        Born is the King of Israel.
7They looked up and saw a Star
8Shining in the East beyond them far,
9And to the earth it gave great light,
10And so it continued both day and night.
11        Nowell, Nowell, Nowell, Nowell,
12        Born is the King of Israel.
13And by the light of that same Star,
14Three Wise Men came from country far;
15To seek for a King was their intent,
16And to follow the Star wherever it went.
17        Nowell, Nowell, Nowell, Nowell,
18        Born is the King of Israel.
19This Star drew nigh to the North West,
20O'er Bethlehem it took its rest,
21And there it did both stop and stay
22Right over the place where Jesus lay.
23        Nowell, Nowell, Nowell, Nowell,
24        Born is the King of Israel.
25Then did they know assuredly
26Within the house the King did lie:
27One entered in then for to see,
28And found the Babe in poverty.
29        Nowell, Nowell, Nowell, Nowell,
30        Born is the King of Israel.
31Then enter'd in those Wise Men three
32Most reverently upon their knee,
33And offer'd there in his presence,
34Both gold, and myrrh, and frankincense.
35        Nowell, Nowell, Nowell, Nowell,
36        Born is the King of Israel.
37Between an ox stall and an ass,
38This Child truly there born he was;
39For want of clothing they did him lay
40All in the manger, among the hay.
41        Nowell, Nowell, Nowell, Nowell,
42        Born is the King of Israel.
43Then let us all with one accord
44Sing praises to our heavenly Lord,
45That hath made heaven and earth of nought,
46And with his blood mankind hath bought.
47        Nowell, Nowell, Nowell, Nowell,
48        Born is the King of Israel.
49If we in our time shall do well,
50We shall be free from death and Hell,
51For God hath prepared for us all
52A resting place in general.
53        Nowell, Nowell, Nowell, Nowell,
54        Born is the King of Israel.


1] For the traditional English melody, see The Cambridge Hymnal, edited by David Holbrook and Elizabeth Poston (Cambridge, Eng.: University Press, 1967), pp. 232-33. The story of the appearance of the shepherds and the three magi to the Christ child appears in the gospels: Matthew 2.1-12 (magi), Luke 2.8-20 (shepherds). The history of this carol is given in The New Oxford Book of Carols, ed. Hugh Keyte and Andrew Parrott (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), pp. 482-83.

Nowell: the French word for 'Christmas,' from the Latin word natalis ('birthday'). Back to Line

Publication Start Year
Publication Notes
Davies Gilbert, ed., Some Ancient Christmas Carols (1823) from the Hutchens MS, County Record Office, Truro, Cornwall.
RPO poem Editors
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition
RPO 1998.