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A Ceremony of Carols

Benjamin Britten (1913-1976)

A Ceremony of Carols Op.28

Text by Various

1. Procession
2. Wolcom Yole!
3. There is no rose
4. That youngë child
5. Balulalow
6. As dew in Aprille
7. This little Babe
8. Interlude
9. In freezing Winter night
10. Spring carol
11. Deo Gracias!
12. Recession

1. Procession

Hodie Christus natus est:
Hdie Salvator apparuit:
Hodie in terra canunt angeli:
Laetantur archangeli:
Hodie exsultant justi dicentes:
gloria in excelsis Deo.

2. Wolcum Yole!

Wolcum, Wolcum
Wolcum be thou hevene king,
Wolcum Yole!
Wolcum, born in one morning,
Wolcum for whom we sall sing!

Wolcum be ye, Stevene and Jon,
Wolcum, Innocentes every one,
Wolcum, Thomas marter one.
Wolcum be ye good Newe Yere,
Wolcum, Twelfthe Day both in fere,
Wolcum, seintes lefe and dere,
Wolcum Yole, Wolcum Yole, Wolcum!

Candelmesse, Quene of bliss,
Wolcum bothe to more and lesse.
Wolcum, Wolcum,
Wolcum be ye that are here,
Wolcum Yole,
Wolcum alle and make good cheer.
Wolcum alle another yere,
Wolcum Yole. Wolcum!

3. There is no Rose

There is no rose of such vertu
As is the rose that bare Jesu,
Alleluia, Alleluia.

For in this rose conteined was
Heaven and earth in litel space,
Res miranda.

By that rose we may well see
There be one God in persons three,
Pares forma.

The aungels sungen the shepherds to:
Gloria in excelsis Deo.

Leave we all this werldly mirth,
And follow we this joyful birth.

4. That yongë child

That yongë child when it gan weep
With song she lulled him asleep:
That was so sweet a melody
It passed alle minstrelsy.

The nightingale sang also:
Her song is hoarse and nought thereto:
Whoso attendeth to her song
and leaveth the first then doth he wrong.

5. Balulalow

O my deare hert, young Jesu sweit,
Prepare thy creddil in my spreit,
And I sall rock thee to my hert,
And never mair from thee depart.
But I sall praise thee evermoir
with sanges sweit unto thy gloir;
The knees of my hert sall I bow,
And sing that richt Balulalow!

6. As dew in Aprille

I sing of a maiden
That is makeles;
King of all kings
To her son she ches.

He came al so stille,
There his moder was,
As dew in Aprille
That falleth on the grass.

He came al so stille
To his moder's bour,
As dew in Aprille
That falleth on the flour.

He came al so stille,
There his moder lay,
As dew in Aprille
That falleth on the spray.

Moder and mayden
Was never none but she;
Well may such a lady
Goddes moder be.

7. This little Babe

This little Babe so few days old,
Is come to rifle Satan's fold;
All hell doth at his presence quake,
Though he himself for cold do shake;
For in this weak unarmed wise
The gates of hell he will surprise.

With tears he fights and wins the field,
His naked breast stands for a shield;
His battering shot are babish cries,
His arrows looks of weeping eyes,
His martial ensigns Cold and Need,
And feeble Flesh his warrior's steed.

His camp is pitched in a stall,
His bulwark but a broken wall;
The crib his trench, haystalks his stakes;
Of shepherds he his muster makes;
And thus, as sure his foe to wound,
The angels' trumps alarum sound.

My soul, with Christ join thou in fight;
Stick to the tents that he hath pight.
Within his crib is surest ward;
This little Babe will be thy guard.
If thou wilt foil thy foes with joy,
Then flit not from this heavenly Boy.

8. Interlude

9. In Freezing Winter Night

Behold, a silly tender babe,
In freezing winter night,
In homely manger trembling lies,
Alas, a piteous sight!

The inns are full; no man will yield
This little pilgrim bed.
But forced he is with silly beasts
In crib to shroud his head.

This stable is a Prince's court,
This crib his chair of State;
The beasts are parcel of his pomp,
The wooden dish his plate.

The persons in that poor attire
His royal liveries wear;
The Prince himself is come from heav'n;
This pomp is prized there.

With joy approach, O Christian wight,
Do homage to thy King.
And highly praise his humble pomp,
which he from Heav'n doth bring.

10. Spring Carol

Pleasure it is to hear iwis,
the Birdes sing,
The deer in the dale,
the sheep in the vale,
The corn springing.

God's purvayance
For sustenance,
It is for man.
Then we always to give him praise,
And thank him than.

11. Deo Gracias

Deo gracias! Deo gracias!
Adam lay i-bounden, bounden in a bond;
Four thousand winter thought he not to long.

And all was for an appil, an appil that he tok,
As clerkes finden written in their book.

Ne had the appil take ben, The appil take ben,
Ne hadde never our lady a ben hevene quene.

Blessed be the time That appil take was.
Therefore we moun singen.
Deo gracias!

12. Recession

Hodie Christus natus est:
Hdie Salvator apparuit:
Hodie in terra canunt angeli:
Laetantur archangeli:
Hodie exsultant justi dicentes:
gloria in excelsis Deo.

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