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Middle English Lyrics: Nowell, Nowell, Nowell
Annunciation from 'The Dunois Hours', c1450
Annunciation from 'The Dunois Hours', c1450.

:: Nowell, nowell, nowell,
    this is the salutacion
    of the aungell Gabriell ::

Tydynges trew ther be cum new, sent frome the Trynyte,
Be Gabriel to Nazaret, cite of Galile;
A clene mayden and pure virgyn thorow hyre humilite,
Conceyvid the secunde person in divinite.
:: Nowell, nowell, nowell, &c. ::

Whan he fyrst presentid was before hyr fayer visag,
In the most demuer and goodly wys he ded to hyr omag,
And seid, Lady, frome heven so hy, that lordes herytag,
The wich off the borne wold be, I am sent on messag.
:: Nowell, nowell, nowell, &c. ::

Hayle, virgyne celestial, the mekest that ever was;
Hayle, temple of deite and myrrour off all grace;
Hayle, virgyne puer, I the ensure within full lyty[l] space,
Thou shalt receyve and hym conceyve that shal bryng gret solace.
:: Nowell, nowell, nowell, &c. ::

Sodenly she, abashid truly, but not al thyng dysmaid,
With mynd dyscret and mek spyryt to the aungell she said:
By what maner shuld I chyld bere, the wich ever a maid
Have lyvid chast, al my lyf past, and never mane asaid?
:: Nowell, nowell, nowell, &c. ::

Than ageyne to hire certeyn answered the aungell,
O lady dere, be off good chere, and dred the never a dell,
Thou shalt conceyve in thi body, mayden, very God hym self,
In whos byrth heven and erth shal joy, callid Emanuell.
:: Nowell, nowell, nowell, &c. ::

Not it, he seid, vj. monethys past, thi cosyn Elyzabeth,
That was barren, conceyvid sent Johan, tru it is that I tell;
Syn she in ag, why not in yought mayst thou conceyve as well,
If God wyl, whome is possybyll to have don every dell?
:: Nowell, nowell, nowell, &c. ::

Thane ageyne to the aungell she answered womanly,
What ever my lord commaund me do, I wyll obey mekely,
Ecce sum humilima ancilla Domini,
Secundum verbum tuum,
she seid, fiat mihi.

:: Nowell, nowell, nowell
    this is the salutacion
    of the aungell, Gabriell ::


Audio Excerpt from the CD
Tydings Trew by Lionheart

For the direct .MP3 file, click here.

[AJ Notes:]

cum new, newly come.
Be Gabryell, by Gabriel.
goodly wys, goodly manner.
omag, homage.
The wich off the borne wold be, which would of thee be born.
mane asaid, man assayed.
dred the never a dell, fear thou not a bit.
sent Johan, St. John.
Syn she in ag, since she in old age.
every dell, everything; all.
Ecce sum humilima ancilla Domini, I am the humblest handmaid of the lord.
Secundum verbum tuum, according to your word.
fiat mihi, be it done unto me.

"Nowell, Nowell, Nowell" Sheet Music
Manuscript image of Bodleian MS Eng. Poet. e. 1. f. 41v-42r.

Text Source:

Early English Poetry, Ballads, &c. Vol XXIII. T. Wright, Ed.
London: Percy Society, 1848. 79-81.

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