Author Topic: Add: In Bethlehem City


Posted - 30 Mar 03 - 12:05 pm

In Bethlehem City

In Bethlehem city, in Judaea it was,
That Joseph and Mary together did pass,
All for to be tax-ed when thither they came,
For Caesar Augustus commanded the same.

Then let us be merry, cast sorrow away,
Our Saviour Christ Jesus was born on this day.

But Mary's full time being come as we find,
She brought forth her first-born to save all mankind;
The inn being full of the heavenly Guest,
No place could she find to lay Him to rest.

Blest Mary, blest Mary, so meek and so mild,
All wrapped up in swathing this heavenly Child,
Contented she laid where oxen do feed,
The great God of nature approved of the deed.

To teach us humility all this was done,
To learn us from hence haughty pride for to shun.
The manger His cradle Who came from above,
The great God of mercy, of peace and of love.

Then presently after the shepherds did spy,
Vast numbers of angels did stand in the sky;
So merry were talking, so sweetly did sing,
"All glory and praise to the heavenly King!"

Source: Broadwood, Lucy, 1893, English County Songs, Leadenhall Press, London


Collected by Lucy Broadwood from Mrs Wilson, near King's Langley, Herts.

Database entry is here.

Edited By dmcg - 03-Mar-2004 11:34:15 AM

masato sakurai

Posted - 30 Mar 03 - 03:36 pm

According to The New Oxford Book of Carols (1992, p. 506; note to "A Virgin Unspotted"), the earliest known version of the text is in New Carolls for this Merry Time of Christmas (London, 1661), and the tune [different one?] is found for the first time in The Compleat Psalmodist (1741) by John Arnold, of Great Warley, Essex, in a four-part setting. The tune to this carol (but with different words) in William Chappell's Popular Music of the Olden Time, vol. 2, p. 642) is that to "Admiral Benbow." "A Virgin Unspotted" in Bramley and Stainer's Christmas Carols New and Old (1871, no. III) has a somewhat similar tune.

These versions are at Bodleian Libray Broadside Ballads.
A Virgin Most Pure (or "Carol").

The Virgin Unspotted

Sinners' Redemption

Edited By masato sakurai - 30/03/2003 15:42:35

Guest Account
Posted - 12 Dec 03 - 10:43 am

From: SImon Beard

Have just come across this in an old EFDSS edition of "Folksongs, Ballads and Chanteys". I am intrigued as to why, if Lucy Broadwood collected it in Herts, why it is listed as a Northamptonshire carol in English County Songs?
I am teaching it tonight to a Northamptonshire village wassail evening!


Posted - 12 Dec 03 - 01:55 pm

wierd that this should come up - since the other night I had this dream of a Carol "In bethlehem city" - but to the tune of "cockles and mussels" (which - with a little tweaking this would fit!)

Malcolm Douglas
Posted - 12 Dec 03 - 04:58 pm

Although living at King's Langley in Hertfordshire, Mrs Wilson was "a native of Northamptonshire", as Lucy Broadwood mentions a little later in English County Songs (The Seeds of Love, note, p.59). Presumably she said she had learned her songs there.

Number 1374 in the Roud Folk Song Index: at present only this example is listed.

Edited By Malcolm Douglas - 12-Dec-2003 05:00:14 PM


Posted - 28 Apr 07 - 07:22 am

Added A Virgin Unspotted


Posted - 07 May 07 - 08:41 pm

Sharp took a version of this carol from Henry Thomas at Chipping Sodbury Workhouse (Sth Glouc). Mr Thomas's tune is quite similar to that on this site. According to the information I have, it derives from a hymn tune by the 18th cent Dorset composer William Knapp, which has since been reworked by various West Gallery composers.

Irene Shettle

Posted - 29 Nov 09 - 07:34 pm

The songs in English County Songs have actually been allocated to counties by somewhat arbitrary means ... since Mrs Wilson was born in Northants, and lived there until her early twenties (as far as I can see from my current research)this was presumably used as a reason to allocate one of her songs to the county of Northamptonshire. It would seem that the reason for this is no more logical than allocating her other song in the book to Hertfordshire since she was living there at the time.There are various other examples of this type of approach in the book, which have been commented upon by David Gregory in his article "Before the Folk-Song Society: Lucy Broadwood and English Folk Song, 1884-97" for the Folk Music Journal in 2008. It was possibly an attempt to justify the title of the collection ? (In fact there are three counties totally missing from the collection altogether).

Clara Susanna Wilson was born Clara Smith, in Little Oakley in Northants around 1848/9 (census returns are notoriously inaccurate on dates of birth, and I have to do further research on this point) . She and Cornelius Wilson, a gardener, slightly younger than herself, who was born in Abbots Langley, Hertfordshire were married in the summer of 1876, and appear to have had one daughter, Selina, who was a self-employed dressmaker in 1901. They were living in Kings Langley, Herts in 1891 the year when Lucy visited Clara in order to collect songs from her on two occasions in November of that year.

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