Sweet Was The Song The Virgin Sung

Hans Holbein the Elder - Virgin and Child -  Oil on wood This traditional English epiphany carol dates from at least the mid 1550’s and is probably a lot older. Like the Advent carol "Blessed be that Maid Marie" about which I wrote early in December (see: Advent Carol: Blessed be that Maid Marie | Saturday Chorale )the earliest source for it is William Ballet’s Lute Book – a manuscript containing a large number of popular sixteenth century tunes in Trinity College, Dublin’s library. Unlike "Blessed be that Maid Marie" it’s in English only rather than a mix of English and Latin.

It’s a lovely old carol that, like many medieval and renaissance carols dealing with the Virgin and the Infant Christ incorporates a lullaby into its lyrics:

Sweet was the song the Virgin sung,

When she, when she to Bethlem Juda came,

And was deliver’d of a Son,

That blessed Jesus hath to name.

Lulla, lulla, lula, lullaby,

Lula, lula, lula, lullaby, sweet Babe, sung she,

My Son, and eke a Saviour born,

Who hast vouchsafed from on high

To visit us that were forlorn;

Lalula, lalula, lalulaby, sweet babe, sang she,

And rockt Him sweetly on her knee.

It’s sung here by Christ Church Cathedral Choir treble soloist Alexander Thompson click the player below to  listen and enjoy.


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