Golden Carol, The (The Three Kings)
DESCRIPTION: "Now is Christemas y-come, Father and Son together in one, Holy Ghost us be on...." The song announces Christmas, then tells the story of the "three kings" who came, visited Herod, saw Jesus, offered their gifts, and went home another way
EARLIEST DATE: c. 1475 (Oxford, Bodleian ms. Eng. Poet. e. 1, the "Vernon Manuscript")
KEYWORDS: Jesus Bible Christmas carol religious
FOUND IN: Britain(England)
REFERENCES (3 citations):
Rickert, pp. 110-112, "Now is Christmas Ycome" (1 text); pp.112-115, "Reges de Saba venient/Now is the Twelfth Day ycome" (a sort of parallel/sequel to the preceding)
OBB 107, "The Three Kings" (1 text)
OBC 173, "The Golden Carol" (1 text plus a tune by Vaughan Williams)
ST OBB107 (Partial)
cf. "We Three Kings (Kings of Orient)" (subject)
cf. "Be mery all that be present, Omnes de Saba venient" (lyric on Herod and the wise men, from Richard Hill's manuscript; see Roman Dyboski, _Songs, Carols, and Other Miscellaneous Poems from the Balliol Ms. 354, Richard Hill's Commonplace Book_, #1, p. 1) (lyrics)
NOTES: This is essentially the story told in Matt. 2:1-12. It should be noted, however, that
1. There is no reason to believe that there were three visitors. All we know is that they gave three gifts.
2. The visitors were not kings and were not wise men. They were "magi" -- Babylonian mystics and perhaps astrologers. Jews would generally consider magi to be evil sorcerers (the Greek word "magos," apart from the uses in Matt. 2:1, 7, 16, is used only in Acts 13:6, 8 of Simon Magus, a magician who claimed to be "the great power of God").
According to Montague Rhodes James, editor, Latin Infancy Gospels: A New Text, with a Parallel Version from Irish, Cambridge University Press, 1927 (I use the 2009 Wipf & Stock paperback reprint), p. xxvii, "It is not before the sixth century that [the Magi are]... described [as kings], at least commonly, though Kerhrer quotes a passage from Tertullian (adv. Marc. III.13) which is capable of being interpreted in that sense."
The Oxford Book of Carols cites this as from Bodleian MS. Eng. Poet. e.1, the "Vernon Manuscript," a famous anthology which also contains "This Endris Night" and "O Mary Mother" and "Holly and Ivy Made a Great Party" as well as "Bring Us In Good Ale" and "TImor Mortis Conturbat Me" and many secular poems. But I simply cannot identify this piece among the items listed in the DIgital Index of Middle English Verse. I must assume that the form in the "Oxford Book" has been much modified. - RBW
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