Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Holy Innocents

December 28 is set aside to honor the Holy Innocents, those infants in and around Bethlehem slain on orders of King Herod, as told in the second chapter of Matthew.

The Coventry Carol dates from the sixteenth century, coming from a mystery play, or pageant, telling the Christmas story from Matthew's gospel. It does still appear in some modern hymnals.

Lully, lullay, thou little tiny child,
Bye, bye, lully lullay.

O sisters too, how may we do,
For to preserve this day,
This poor youngling for whom we sing,
Bye, bye lully lullay.

Herod the king in his raging,
Charged he hath this day,
Soldiers of might, in his own sight,
All young children to slay.

Then woe is me, poor child, for thee!
And every morn and day,
For thy parting not say nor sing
Bye, bye, lully lullay.

Lully, lullay, thou little tiny child,
Bye, bye, lully lullay.

Traditional English carol; 16th c.
Tune: COVENTRY CAROL (4.4.6.D. with refrain)

There have been other choral settings of this carol over the years. One I found on YouTube that I like is by the young British composer Philip Stopford.

1 comment:

Leland Bryant Ross said...

This evening I'm in charge of PSST (our Sunday evening service); I'm planning on focusing mainly on Hanukkah; we'll sing three Hanukkah songs ("Light one candle for the Maccabee children", "Mi y'malel", and "Rock of ages" (not the Christian "Rock of ages"!) But I'll try to touch at least briefly on the Innocents, too; perhaps we'll sing the Woodward translation of "Puer Nobis" or something, probably not the Coventry Carol though you never know.

Leland aka Haruo