Saint Stephen and Herod [Child 22]

DESCRIPTION: Stephen sees the star of Bethlehem, and tells his master King Herod that he can no longer serve him because he must serve the better child in Bedlam. Herod says that the roasted cock will sooner crow. It does crow, and Herod has Stephen stoned.
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1856, from ms of c. 1430 ( (British Museum -- Sloane MS. 2593)
KEYWORDS: religious bird execution
4 B.C.E. - Death of Herod the Great
(not before) 30 C.E. - Death of Stephen
REFERENCES (16 citations):
Child 22, "St Stephen and Herod" (1 text)
Bronson 22, "St Stephen and Herod" (1 version)
Flanders/Olney, pp. 217-218, "St. Stephen and Herod" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's (#1)}
Flanders-Ancient1, pp. 239-241, "St. Stephen and Herod" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's (#1)}
Rickert, pp. 123-124, "Saint Stephen was a Clerk" (1 text)
Leach, pp. 107-108, "St. Stephen and Herod" (1 text)
OBB 98, "St. Stephen and King Herod" (1 text)
PBB 1, "Saint Stephen and Herod" (1 text)
Gummere, pp. 295-296+362, "St. Stephen and Herod" (1 text)
Morgan-Medieval, p. 127, "Saint Stephen and Herod" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: Brown/Robbins, _Index of Middle English Verse_, #3058
Digital Index of Middle English Verse #4761
Celia and Kenneth Sisam, _The Oxford Book of Medieval English Verse_, Oxford University Press, 1970; corrected edition 1973, #10, p. 56, "Saint Stephen" (1 text)
Karin Boklund-Lagopolou, _I have a yong suster: Popular song and Middle English lyric_, Four Courts Press, 2002, p. 79, "(Saint Stephen and Herod)" (1 text)
Walter de la Mare, _Come Hither_, revised edition, 1928; #255, "ACarol for Saint Stephen's Day" (1 text)

Roud #3963
cf. "The Roasted Cock" (plot)
cf. "The Wife of Usher's Well" (plot)
NOTES [217 words]: For the stoning of Stephen (c. 30-31 C.E.) see Acts 7:54-8:2 (note that Herod had been dead for more than thirty years when Stephen was killed!).
For the birth of Jesus in the time of Herod (probably 6 B.C.E) see Matt. 1:18-2:23, Luke 1:5f.
For the cruelty of Herod, see also Josephus, Antiquities (the end of Herod's life is the primary theme of Josephus's book XVII, detailing, e.g., the executions of several of Herod's sons and the mass slaughter he planned to follow his death).
For the vexed question of the origin of the legend of the roasted cock, see the notes to "The Carnal and the Crane" [Child 55].
For a more accurate set of verses about the stoning of Stephen, that might be a traditional song or might be a religious poem, see 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), #41, p. 32, "[The Stoning of St. Stephen]" (1 text)
The only recent find of this, and the only version with a tune, is the version Flanders collected from George Edwards; she speculates that his source (his grandfather) may have learned it from print.
For more on the Sloane manuscript, the source for this piece, see the notes to "Robyn and Gandeleyn" [Child 115].- RBW
Last updated in version 4.4
File: C022

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