When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under.@Matthew 2:16

Renaissance carol (🔊 pdf nwc). It is named after the city of Coventry, England, where the 15th Century Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors depicted Herod’s slaughter of the innocents, told in the lyrics.

illustration
Slaughter of the Innocents
Carl H. Bloch (1834-1890)

Lully, lullay, Thou little tiny Child,
By, by, lully, lullay.

O sisters too, how may we do,
For to preserve this day
This poor Youngling for whom we sing
By, by, lully, lullay?

Herod the king, in his raging,
Charged he hath this day
His men of might, in his own sight,
All young children to slay.

That woe is me, poor Child for Thee!
And ever morn and day
For Thy parting neither say nor sing,
By, by, lully, lullay.

Lully, lullay, Thou little tiny Child,
By, by, lully, lullay.