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Middle English Lyrics: What Tidings Bringest Thou?

Annunciation to the Shepherds, Medieval French Manuscript, c1460
Annunciation to the Shepherds. c1460.

What Tidings Bringest Thou?

:: What tydynges bringest thou, messenger,
Of Christes birth this Yoles day? ::

A babe ys born of hye nature,
Is prins of pes & ever shal be.
Of hevene & erthe he hath the cure,
His lordshyp is eternite.
      Such wonder tydyngys ye mow here,
      That man is made now Godys pere,
      Whom synne hadde made but fendes praye.

:: What tydynges bringest, &c. ::

A semely syght hit is to se,
The berde that hath this babe y-borne
Conceyved a lord of hye degre,
A maiden as heo was byforne.
      Such wonder tydyngys ye mow here,
      That maide & moder is one y-fere,
      And alwey lady of hye aray.

:: What tydynges bringest, &c. ::

This maide began to gretyn here childe,
Saide: "Haile sone, haile fader dere!"
He said: "Haile moder, haile maide mylde."
This gretynge was in queynt maner.
      Such wonder tydyngys ye mow here,
      Here gretynge was in suche maner
      Hit turned manys peyne to play.

:: What tydynges bringest, &c. ::

A wonder thynge is now befalle;
That lorde that formed sterres & sunne,
Heven & earth & angelys alle,
Nowe in mankynde is byginne.
      Such wonder tydyngys ye mow here,
      A faunt that is not of o yere,
      Ever hath y be & shal be ay.

:: What tydynges bringest, &c. ::

Audio Excerpt from the CD
Medieval Carols by Oxford Camerata

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Yoles day, Yule Day; Christmas Day.
hye, high.
prins of pes, Prince of Peace.
Of heven... cure, he has he power over heaven and earth.
wonder tydyngys, wondrous tidings.
mow here, may hear.
Godys pere, God's peer.
fendes praye, fiend's (Devil's) prey.
semely syght hit is to se, pleasing sight it is to see.
berde, maiden.
hath this babe y-born, has given birth to this child.
A maiden as heo was byforne, a virgin, as she was before [bearing the child].
That maide & moder is one y-fere, that maid & mother are one and the same.
of hye aray, of great estate; magnificence.
queynt, elegant.
manes peyne to play, man's punishment (in hell) to enjoyment (in heaven).
is now befalle, has now befallen; has happened.
sterres, stars.
angelys, angels.
in mankynde is byginne, is born as man.
faunt, infant (from the Fr. "enfant").
not of o yere, not even one year old.
Ever hath y be & shal be ay, always has been and always will be.

Manuscript Image of Bodleian MS. Arch. Selden B. 26, ff. 15v-16r.

Modernized Sheet Music, 1916.

Transcribed and glossed from the manuscript by Anniina Jokinen.


Jokinen, Anniina, ed. "What Tidings Bringest Thou." Luminarium.
          26 Nov 2009. [Date you accessed this page].

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