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Tuesday 6 December - Sir Christèmas, from Ave Rex (William Mathias)

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From Carols by Candlelight, by the Choir of Magdalen College, Oxford.

This person gives a better talking-through of this song than I could provide. Essentially, 'Sir Christèmas' is Father Christmas, the semi-secular (inasmuch as the word has a recognizeable meaning in the late medieval period) personification of Christmas cheer, who was later conflated with St Nicholas to produce, after some centuries, the modern-day Santa Claus. I've been doing excerpts from Britten's "St Nicolas" for a few years now, so I felt it was time to acknowledge this part of the legend's ancestry.

Nowell, nowell, nowell, nowell,
Nowell, nowell, nowell, nowell,

Who is there that singeth so,
Nowell, nowell, nowell, nowell?

I am here, Sir Christèmas, Sir Christèmas, Sir Christèmas.
Welcome, my lord Sir Christèmas,
Welcome to all, both more and less,
Come near, come near, come near, come near, come near.

Nowell, nowell, nowell, nowell,
Nowell, nowell, nowell, nowell,

Dieu vous garde, beaux sieurs, tidings I you bring:
A maid hath borne a child full young, which causeth you to sing:

Nowell, nowell, nowell, nowell,
Nowell, nowell, nowell, nowell,

Christ is now born of a pure maid, born of a pure maid;
In an ox-stall he is laid, wherefore sing we at a brayde:

Nowell, nowell, nowell, nowell,
Nowell, nowell, nowell, nowell,

Buvez bien, buvez bien par toute la compagnie.
Make good cheer and be right merry, and sing with us now joyfully,
Joyfully, joyfully:

Nowell, nowell, nowell, nowell,
Nowell, nowell, nowell, nowell,

Nowell! Nowell!