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December 5

The tune to "Masters in This Hall" is an old French dance. William Morris wrote words for it around 1860. The tune may have entered English folk music tradition in 1710 when John Essex published a translation of Raoul Auger Feuillet's 1703 Recueil de contredanse, For the Further Improvement of Dancing, which contained this tune. It may have also have come later, possibly via Edmund Sedding with whom William Morris worked.

Liddy arranged the tune herself for this recording and played both parts on the tin whistle. She dedicates this song to Beth Arnold who is being ordained today as a Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Downloads: mp3

Masters in This Hall

Performed by Liddy Barlow on tin whistle

Words: William Morris, 1860.
Music: French traditional, arr. Liddy Barlow, 2010.

Masters in this hall,
Hear ye news to-day
Brought from over sea,
And ever I you pray:

Nowell! Nowell! Nowell!
Nowell, sing we clearl
Holpen are all folk on earth,
Born is God's son so dear:
Nowell! Nowell! Nowell!
Nowell, sing we loud!
God today hath poor folk raised
And cast a-down the proud.

Going o'er the hills,
Through the milk-white snow,
Heard I ewes bleat
While the wind did blow:

Shepherds many an one
Sat among the sheep,
No man spake more word
Than they had been asleep:

Quoth I, "Fellows mine,
Why this guise sit ye?
Making but dull cheer,
Shepherds though ye be?"

"Shepherds should of right
Leap and dance and sing,
Thus to see ye sit,
Is a right strange thing":

Quoth these fellows then,
"To Bethlem town we go,
To see a mighty lord
Lie in manger low":

"How name ye this lord,
Shepherds?" then said I,
"Very God," they said,
"Come from Heaven high":

Then to Bethlem town
We went two and two,
And in a sorry place
Heard the oxen low:

Therein did we see
A sweet and goodly may
And a fair old man,
Upon the straw she lay:

And a little child
On her arm had she,
"Wot ye who this is?"
Said the hinds to me:

Ox and ass him know,
Kneeling on their knee,
Wondrous joy had I
This little babe to see:

This is Christ the Lord,
Masters be ye glad!
Christmas is come in,
And no folk should be sad:

Sources and more information