Pray for Us, Thou Prince of Peace

DESCRIPTION: "Pray for us, thou prynce of pes, Amici Christi Johannes." "To the now, Crystys der derling." John slept on Jesus's breast. He did not forsake Jesus when Jesus was before Pilate. Jesus was put into his care. So the song appeals to him
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: XV century (Bodleian MS. Eng. poet. e.1 and others)
KEYWORDS: Jesus religious carol foreignlanguage
REFERENCES (5 citations):
ADDITIONAL: Roman Dyboski, _Songs, Carols, and Other Miscellaneous Poems from the Balliol Ms. 354, Richard Hill's Commonplace Book_, Kegan Paul, 1907 (there are now multiple print-on-demand reprints), #19, pp. 11, "(Pray for vs to the prince of peace, Amice Crysty, Johannes)" (1 text, with some variant readings on pp. 171-172)
Richard Greene, editor, _A Selection of English Carols_, Clarendon Medieval and Tudor Series, Oxford/Clarendon Press, 1962, #21, pp. 791, "(Pray for us, thou prynce of pes)" (1 text)
R. T. Davies, editor, _Medieval English Lyrics: A Critical Anthology_, 1963, #68, p. 157, "A Song to John, Christ's Friend" (1 text)
Brown/Robbins, _Index of Middle English Verse_, #3776
Digital Index of Middle English Verse #6020

NOTES [423 words]: Although I know of no traditional collections, Greene, p. 199, reports, "This carol is found in more different texts (as a carol) than any other. Stevens (p. 117) points out that it is 'the only polyphonic carol found in three different musical settings.'" Greene's version is in the third person, the other texts in the first, so it has undergone modification over time, although it is not clear whether this was oral or written change.
Davies, p. 335, says that six texts are known, including the following five:
Bodleian MS Eng. poet e. 1, XV century (the basis of Greene)
Balliol MS. 354 (folio 222 recto; this is the famous Richard Hill manuscript, with the components written by 1537)
British Library MS. Additional 665 (with music)
British Library MS. Harley 4594
Cambridge, Trinity College O.3.58 (1230) recto (dated to the early fifteenth century)
The Latin reads "Friend/Beloved (of) Christ John," i.e. "John the Friend of Christ." This is a reference to "the Beloved Disciple" of the Gospel of John. Nowhere is the Beloved Disciple named in that gospel, but it is a reasonable inference that it was John son of Zebedee -- Jesus's three closest disciples were Peter, James, and John, and it's not Peter (since Peter and the Beloved Disciple are distinguished on several occasions, e.g. John 21:20), and it is unlikely to have been James since James was probably the first of the Twelve to be executed (Acts 12:2). And Peter and John are often together in Acts (e.g. Acts 3:1), and Peter and the Beloved Disciple are often together in the Gospel of John. If the Beloved Disciple is indeed one of the Twelve listed in the three synoptic gospels, he almost has to be John.
Since the Beloved Disciple is mentioned only in John, naturally all the references to him in this carol are from that gospel. He "lay on Christ's breast" in John 13:23. When Jesus was before Pilate, it was the Beloved Disciple who gained admission for Peter (John 18:15-16, although the disciple is not there called "beloved"). And Jesus consigned his mother to the hands of the Beloved Disciple in John 19:26-27.
The name "The Beloved Disciple" is the usual one in English, because the Greek says "the disciple whom Jesus loved," the Greek verb being "agapao," the usual New Testament word for (non-romantic) love. Interestingly, in the Latin of John 13:23, 19:26, 21:20, the verb used to describe Jesus's feelings is not "amat" (related to "amici") but "diligebat"; the description of John as Jesus's "amici" is reasonable but not formally scriptural. - RBW
Last updated in version 4.1
File: BrR3776

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List

Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2018 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.