‘Let us gather hand in hand’ – A Mediaeval Poem for Christmas

medieval nativityFrom Medieval English Verse, trans. and ed. Brian Stone (pp. 30-31):

Let us gather hand in hand
And sing of bliss without an end:
The Devil has fled from earthly land,
And Son of God is made our friend.

A Child is born in man’s abode,
And in that Child no blemish showed.
That Child is God, that Child is Man,
And in that Child our life began.
Let us gather, etc.

Be blithe and merry, sinful an,
For your marriage peace began
When Christ was born.
Come to Christ, your peace is ude
Because he shed his blood for you,
Who were forlorn.
So let us gather, etc.

Sinful man, be blithe and bold,
For heaven is both bought and sold,
Through and through.
Come to Christ, and peace foretold:
His life he gave a hundredfold
To succour you.
So let us gather hand in hand
And sing of bliss without an end:
The Devil has fled from earthly land,
And Son of God is made our friend.

Stone writes that this Nativity carol ‘is the earliest in English yet discovered, for it appears in a Franciscan list of sermon outlines written not later than 1350. The words of the refrain clearly convey both the manner of performance and the joy of the occasion.’ (p. 25)

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