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quod pro nobis traditum est

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

the Sussex Carol

At a choral concert on Sunday I heard the Sussex Carol.

A story in the history of this popular British carol caught my eye. The carol was first published by an Irish bishop in 1684. Vaughn Williams apparently heard it sung in Sussex, England, and wrote down the text and tune. The tune we generally hear today is the Vaughn Williams tune of 1919.

Here is the text of the first stanza from the Ralph Vaughn Williams version:

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.