This Endris Night
DESCRIPTION: "This endris night I saw a sight, a star as bright as day, And ever among, a maiden sung, Lulley, by-by, lullay." The baby Jesus and his mother discuss his future: He will be great, and the mighty will bow to him -- but for now he asks her to care for him
EARLIEST DATE: before 1537 (Hill MS., Balliol Coll. Oxf. 354)
KEYWORDS: religious Jesus mother
REFERENCES (9 citations):
OBC 39, "This Endris Night" (1 text, 1 tune)
Rickert, pp. 62-63, "This Endernight I saw a sight" (1 text, with a slightly different meter but enough similar words that I think it should be mentioned here)
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), #35, pp. 25-26, "[This enders nyght I saw a sight]" (1 text), with two additional texts and variant readings from a third on pp. 174-176
Richard Greene, editor, _A Selection of English Carols_, Clarendon Medieval and Tudor Series, Oxford/Clarendon Press, 1962, #41, pp. 99-101, "(This endurs nyght)" (1 text)
John Julian, editor, _A Dictionary of Hymnology_, 1892; second edition 1907 (I use the 1957 Dover edition in two volumes), p. 209
Thomas Wright, _Song and Carols, Now First Printed, From a Manuscript of the FIfteenth Century_, Percy Society, 1847, #X, p. 12, ("Thys endrys ny3th") (1 text)
Celia and Kenneth Sisam, _The Oxford Book of Medieval English Verse_, Oxford University Press, 1970; corrected edition 1973, #210, pp. 466-469, "Lullay, By-by, Lullay"; #212, pp. 472-473, "Lullay, my child" (2 texts)
Brown/Robbins, _Index of Middle English Verse_, #3627
Digital Index of Middle English Verse #5729
NOTES [191 words]: Although no longer found in tradition, this seems to have been very popular in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. It is in the Hill MS. (Balliol College, Oxford, 354, folio 226), in British Library MS. Add. 3192, in Sloane MS. 2593, Bodleian MS. Eng. poet. e.1 (folios 17v-18v), with music in British Library MS. Royal Appendix 58, and in the Advocates Library, Edinburgth, MN. 19.3.1 (the source of Greene's text). Such wide currency, to me, implies that it belongs in the Index,
It is old enough that the Percy Society printing, at least, still uses a yogh (3) rather than "gh."
In the circumstances, it's rather sad to note that nothing whatsoever in this song is Biblical.
One other irony -- the manuscript containing the version of this with music, Britlsh Library Royal Appendix 58, is full of secular love lyrics ("A[h] the sighs that come from my heart," "For my pastime upon a day"/"Colle to me the rysshys grene," "The little pretty nightingale," "By a bank as I lay"), verses to a mistress (including the famous "Westron Wind"), and even an "erotic carol," "Kitt she wept I asked why so"/"Kitt hath lost her key her key." - RBW
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