Scripture Verse

She gave birth to her firstborn, a son. Luke 2:7


Words & Mu­sic: 15th Cen­tu­ry (🔊 pdf nwc).


This endris night1 I saw a sight
A star as bright as day;
And ever among a maiden sung,
Lullay, by by, lul­lay.

This lovely lady sat and sung,
And to her Child did say:
My Son, my Brother, Fa­ther, dear,
Why liest Thou thus in hay?

My sweetest bird, thus ’tis required,
Though Thou be King veray2;
But nevertheless I will not cease
To sing, By by, lullay.

The Child then spake in His talking,
And to his mother said:
“Yea, I am known as Hea­ven-King,
In crib though I be laid.

For angels bright down to Me light3:
Thou knowest ’tis no nay4:
And for that sight thou may’st delight
To sing, By by, lul­lay.

“Now, sweet Son, since Thou art a king,
Why art Thou laid in stall?
Why dost not or­der thy bed­ding
In some great king­ès hall?

Methinks5 ’tis right that king or knight
Should lie in good ar­ray:
And then among, it were no wrong
To sing, By by, lul­lay.

“Mary mother, I am thy child,
Though I be laid in stall;
For lords and dukes shall wor­ship Me,
And so shall king­ès all.

Ye shall well see that king­ès three
Shall come on this twelfth day.
For this be­hest give Me thy breast
And sing, By by, lul­lay.

“Now tell, sweet Son, I Thee do pray,
Thou art my Love and Dear—
How should I keep Thee to Thy pay6,
And make Thee glad of cheer?

For all Thy will I would ful­fill—
Thou knowest well, in fay7;
And for all this I will Thee kiss,
And sing, By by, lul­lay.

“My dear mo­ther, when time it be,
Take thou Me up on loft,
And set Me then up­on thy knee,
And han­dle me full soft.

And in thy arm thou hold Me warm,
And keep Me night and day,
And if I weep, and may not sleep,
Thou sing, By by, lul­lay.

“Now sweet Son, since it is come so,
That all is at Thy will,
I pray Thee grant to me a boon8,
If it be right and skill9

That child or man, who will or can
Be mer­ry on my day,
To bliss Thou bring—and I shall sing,
Lullay, by by, lul­lay.

Archaic terms:

1This endris night: The other night, a few nights ago

2Veray: True

3Light: Alight

4No nay: Undeniable

5Methinks: I think

6Pay: Satisfaction

7Fay: Faith

8Boon: Favor

9Skill: Reasonable