Tyrle, Tyrlo (Tyrley, Tyrlow)
DESCRIPTION: "Tyrle, tyrlo, So meryye the shepperdes began to blowe." "About the fyld they pyped full right." A light and a company of angels come from heaven. They lead the shepherds to Bethlehem, where they meet "that mek chyld."
EARLIEST DATE: before 1537 (Hill MS., Balliol Coll. Oxf. 354)
KEYWORDS: carol Christmas sheep nonballad religious
REFERENCES (5 citations):
OBC 169, "Tyrley, Tyrlow" (1 text, 1 modern tune)
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), #20, p. 11, "(Tyrly tirlow)" (1 text)
Richard Greene, editor, _A Selection of English Carols_, Clarendon Medieval and Tudor Series, Oxford/Clarendon Press, 1962, #17, pp. 71-72, "(Tyrle, Tyrlo)" (1 text, with variants in Wright's text on p. 172)
Brown/Robbins, _Index of Middle English Verse_, #112
Digital Index of Middle English Verse #204
NOTES: There is no proof that this piece is traditional, but there are hints that it was at least somewhat popular. The first is its inclusion in the Hill manuscript, which includes some folk pieces. And this is not the only source; Greene's text is from Bodleian MS. Eng. poet e.1, which is thought to date from the fifteenth century, and a now-destroyed manuscript once owned by Thomas Sharp -- the same text of the Coventry Pageant of Shepherds and Tailors which also contained "The Coventry Carol" -- is said to have had music for it. Three copies, one of them from the Hill Manuscript, are perhaps enough to justify its inclusion here. Certainly it has been cited frequently since; the Index of Middle English Verse lists six reprints.
The Coventry version is different from, and shorter than, the others:
As I rode this enderes night,
Of thre ioli shpehedes I saw a sight,
And all a-boute there fold a star shone bright;
They sang terli terlow;
So mereli the sheppards ther pipes can blow.
The story of the birth of Jesus and the shepherds is found in Luke 2:8-20.
A facsimile of the Hill manuscript is now available at the Balliol Library manuscripts resource at the Bodleian web site; go to http://image.ox.ac.uk/list?collection=balliol and scroll down to MS. 354. For more on the lost Sharp manuscript and the Coventry Pageant, see the notes to "The Coventry Carol." - RBW
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