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Masters In This Hall

December 11, 2007

While working on the narration for our church’s annual Christmas concert. I found the words to the song, Masters In This Hall. Our brass ensemble is going to be playing the music, and I thought it would be helpful for the audience to hear what the words are. The song is an old French carol, whose words were written by William Morris sometime before 1860. I also like to put poetry in paragraph form so that I can read it correctly. Until I found these words, I thought the song was only “semi-sacred.” I’m looking forward to reading this poem at the concert.

Masters in this hall, hear ye news today, brought from over sea, and ever I you pray. Nowell, Nowell, Nowell! Nowell sing we clear! Holpen are all folk on earth. Born is God’s Son, so dear. Nowell, Nowell, Nowell! Nowell sing we loud! God today hath all folk raised and cast a down the proud. Going o’er the hills, through the milk-white snow, heard I ewes bleat while the wind did blow. Shepherds many an one sat among the sheep, no man spake more word than they had been asleep. Quoth I, “Fellows mine, why this guise sit ye? Making but dull cheer, shepherds though ye be? Shepherds should of right leap and dance and sing, thus to see ye sit, is a right strange thing.” Quoth these fellows then, “To Bethl’em town we go, to see a mighty lord lie in manger low.” “How name ye this lord, Shepherds?” then said I, “Very God,” they said, “Come from Heaven high.” Then to Bethl’em town we went, two and two, and in a sorry place heard the oxen low. Therein did we see a sweet and goodly may, and a fair old man, upon the straw she lay. And a little child on her arm had she, “Wot ye who this is?” said the hinds to me. Ox and ass him know, kneeling on their knee, wondrous joy had I this little babe to see. This is Christ, the Lord; Masters, be ye glad! Christmas is come in and no folk should be sad.

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