December 23, 2014

Poem: Sussex Carol (On Christmas Night All Christians Sing)

Painting by Guido Reni (1575-1642) - Courtesy of Wikipedia

Sussex Carol (On Christmas Night All Christians Sing) is an anonymous English Christmas carol. An early version was published in the 17th century by Fr. Luke Wadding O.F.M. (October 1588-1657), but it is uncertain if he was the original author or was setting down an existing folksong. None-the-less, the song remained popular in oral tradition and was collected in 1919 by the folklorist,  Cecil Sharp (1859-1924) together with the composer, Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958). It is this version which is most commonly known today. Sussex Carol is included in the Poems for Advent and Christmas Appendix of the Divine Office (1974).

Arranged by Ralph Vaughan Williams

SUSSEX CAROL (Anonymous)

On Christmas night all Christians sing
To hear the news the angels bring.
News of great joy, news of great mirth,
News of our merciful King's birth.

Then why should men on earth be so sad,
Since our Redeemer made us glad,
When from our sin he set us free,
All for to gain our liberty?

When sin departs before His grace,
Then life and health come in its place.
Angels and men with joy may sing
All for to see the new-born King.

All out of darkness we have light,
Which made the angels sing this night:
"Glory to God and peace to men,
Now and for evermore, Amen!"

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