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: c. 1430 (British Library -- Sloane MS. 2593); printed by Ritson 1790
KEYWORDS: religious bird execution MiddleEnglish
4 B.C.E. - Death of Herod the Great
(not before) 30 C.E. - Death of Stephen
REFERENCES (19 citations):
Child 22, "St Stephen and Herod" (1 text)
Bronson 22, "St Stephen and Herod" (1 version)
Flanders/Olney-BalladsMigrantInNewEngland, pp. 217-218, "St. Stephen and Herod" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's (#1)}
Flanders-AncientBalladsTraditionallySungInNewEngland1, pp. 239-241, "St. Stephen and Herod" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's (#1)}
Rickert-AncientEnglishChristmasCarols, pp. 123-124, "Saint Stephen was a Clerk" (1 text)
Hirsh-MedievalLyric-MiddleEnglishLyricsBalladsCarols, p. 126, "Saint Steuene was a clerk in yng erowdis halle" (1 text)
Ritson-AncientSongsBalladsFromHenrySecondToTheRevolution, pp. 121-123, "A Carol for Saint Stephens Day" (1 text)
Leach-TheBalladBook, pp. 107-108, "St. Stephen and Herod" (1 text)
Quiller-Couch-OxfordBookOfBallads 98, "St. Stephen and King Herod" (1 text)
Grigson-PenguinBookOfBallads 1, "Saint Stephen and Herod" (1 text)
Gummere-OldEnglishBallads, pp. 295-296+362, "St. Stephen and Herod" (1 text)
Morgan-MedievalBallads-ChivalryRomanceAndEverydayLife, p. 127, "Saint Stephen and Herod" (1 text)
Brown/Robbins-IndexOfMiddleEnglishVerse, #3058
DigitalIndexOfMiddleEnglishVerse #4761
ADDITIONAL: 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, "A Carol for Saint Stephen's Day" (1 text)
MANUSCRIPT: {MSSloane2593}, London, British Library, MS. Sloane 2593, folio 22

Roud #3963
cf. "Jesu was born in Bethlehem Judea" (theme of the steward telling Herod of Jesus"
cf. "The Roasted Cock" (plot)
cf. "The Wife of Usher's Well" (plot)
NOTES [213 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 manuscript Sloane 2593, see the notes to "Robyn and Gandeleyn" [Child 115]. - RBW
Last updated in version 5.3
File: C022

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