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Middle English Lyrics: Nowell, Nowell, Nowell
Annunciation from 'The Dunois Hours', c1450
Adoration of the Magi from 'The Dunois Hours', c1450.

:: Nowel, nowel, nowel,
    Nowel, nowel, nowel! ::

OUT of youre slepe arise and wake,
For God mankind now hathe itake
All of a maide without any make.
Of all women she berethe the belle.
:: Nowel, nowel, nowel, &c. ::

And throwe a maide faire and wis
Now man is made of full grete pris;
Now angeles knelen to manes servis;
And at this time all this bifel.
:: Nowel, nowel, nowel, &c. ::

Now man is brighter than the sonne;
Now man in heven an hie shall wonne;
Blessed be God this game is begonne
And his moder emperesse of helle.
:: Nowel, nowel, nowel, &c. ::

That ever was thralle, now is he free;
That ever was smalle, now grete is she;
Now shall God deme bothe thee and me
Unto his blisse, if we do well.
:: Nowel, nowel, nowel, &c. ::

Now man may to heven wende;
Now heven and erthe to him they bende;
He that was fo now is oure frende.
This is no nay that I you telle.
:: Nowel, nowel, nowel, &c. ::

Now blessed brother, graunte us grace,
A domes day to see thy face,
And in thy court to have a place,
That we mow there singe nowel.
:: Nowel, nowel, nowel,
    Nowel, nowel, nowel! ::

Audio Excerpt from the CD
Sing We Noel by Boston Camerata

For the direct .MP3 file, click here.

[AJ Notes:]

hath itake, has taken.
withoute any make, can mean both "without an equal" and "without a mate".
bereth, bears.
the belle, the best.
throwe, through.
full grete pris, great value; excellence.
sonne, sun.
heven an hie shall wonne, heaven on high shall win, i.e. gain entry to heaven.
moder, mother.
That ever, whoever.
deme, judge.
wende, go.
bende, bow.
This is no nay, it cannot be denied.
that I you telle, that which I tell you.
domes day, doomsday; day of the Last Judgment.
mow, may.

Thumbnail of the Selden Manuscript
Image of Bodleian Library, MS. Arch. Selden B. 26., fol. 14v.

Text Source:

Chambers, E. K. and F. Sidgwick. Early English Lyrics.
London: A. H. Bullen, 1907. 115.

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