Robert Herrick (1591-1674)

Ceremonies for Christmas

     Come, bring with a noise,
     My merry, merry boys,
The Christmas Log to the firing;
     While my good Dame, she
     Bids ye all be free;
And drink to your heart's desiring.

     With the last year's brand
     Light the new block, and
For good success in his spending,
     On your Psaltries play,
     That sweet luck may
Come while the log is a-tinding.

     Drink now the strong beer,
     Cut the white loaf here,
The while the meat is a-shredding;
     For the rare mince-pie
     And the plums stand by
To fill the paste that's a-kneading.

Christmas-Eve, Another Ceremony

Come guard this night the Christmas-Pie,
That the thief, though ne'er so sly,
With his flesh-hooks, don't come nigh
                  To catch it

From him, who all alone sits there,
Having his eyes still in his ear,
And a deal of nightly fear
                  To watch it.

Another to the Maids

Wash your hands, or else the fire
Will not tind to your desire;
Unwashed hands, ye maidens, know,
Dead the fire, though ye blow.


Wassail the trees, that they may bear
You many a plum, and many a pear:
For more or less fruits they will bring,
As you do give them wassailing.

An Ode of the Birth of our Savior

In numbers, and but these few,
I sing Thy birth, Oh, Jesu!
Thou pretty Baby, born here,
With sup'rabundant scorn here:
Who for Thy princely port here,
          Hadst for Thy place
          Of birth, a base
Out-stable for Thy court here.

Instead of neat inclosures
Of interwoven osiers,
Instead of fragrant posies,
Of daffodils and roses,
Thy cradle, kingly Stranger,
          As Gospel tells,
          Was nothing else,
But, here, a homely manger.

But we with silks (not cruels),
With sundry precious jewels,
And lily-work will dress Thee
Of clouts; we'll make a chamber,
          Sweet Babe, for Thee,
          Of ivory,
And plastered round with amber.

The Jews they did disdain Thee,
But we will entertain Thee
With glories to await here
Upon Thy princely state here,
And more for love, than pity.
          From year to year
          We'll make Thee, here,
A free-born of our city.

The New-year's Gift

Let others look for pearl and gold,
Tissues, or tabbies manifold:
One only lock of that sweet hay
Whereon the blessed Baby lay,
Or one poor swaddling-clout, shall be
The richest New-year's gift to me.

A Christmas Carol, Sung to the King
in the Presence at White-Hall

[CHORUS] What sweeter music can we bring,
Than a carol, for to sing
The birth of this our heavenly King?
Awake the voice! Awake the string!
Heart, ear, and eye, and everything.
Awake! the while the active finger
Runs division with the singer.

[VOICE 1] Dark and dull night, fly hence away,
And give the honor to this day,
That sees December turned to May.

[2] If we may ask the reason, say
The why, and wherefore, all things here
Seem like the springtime of the year?

[3] Why does the chilling Winter's morn
Smile, like a field beset with corn?
Or smell, like to a mead new-shorn,
Thus, on the sudden?

[4] Come and see
The cause, why things thus fragrant be:
'Tis He is born, whose quickening birth
Gives life and luster, public mirth,
To heaven, and the under-earth.

[CHORUS] We see Him come, and know Him ours,
Who, with His sunshine, and His showers,
Turns all the patient ground to flowers.

[1] The darling of the world is come,
And fit it is, we find a room
To welcome Him. [2] The nobler part
Of all the house here, is the heart,

[CHORUS] Which we will give Him; and bequeath
This holly, and this ivy wreath,
To do Him honor; who's our King,
And Lord of all this reveling.

[The musical part was composed by Master Henry Lawes.]

The Star-Song: A Carol to the King;

Sung at White-Hall

[KING 1] Tell us, thou clear and heavenly tongue,
Where is the Babe but lately sprung?
Lies He the lily-banks among?

[KING 2] Or say, if this new birth of ours
Sleeps, laid within some ark of flowers,
Spangled with dew-light; thou canst clear
All doubts, and manifest the where.

[KING 3] Declare to us, bright star, if we shall seek
Him in the morning's blushing cheek,
Or search the beds of spices through,
To find Him out?

[STAR] No, this ye need not do;
But only come, and see Him rest
A princely Babe in's mother's breast.

[CHORUS] He's seen, He's seen, why then a round,
Let's kiss the sweet and holy ground;
And all rejoice, that we have found
A King, before conception crowned.

[3 KINGS] Come then, come then, and let us bring
Unto our pretty Twelfth-tide King,
Each one his several offering;

[CHORUS] And when night comes, we'll give Him wassailing:
And that His treble honors may be seen,
We'll choose Him King, and make His mother Queen.

Christ's Birth

One birth our Savior had; the like none yet
Was, or will be a second like to it.
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