John Skelton - NOW SING WE, &C.


[From Bibliographical Miscellanies (edited by the Rev. Dr. Bliss), 1813, 4to., p. 48, where it is given from an imperfect volume (or fragments of volumes) of black-letter Christmas Carols, partly (but probably not wholly) printed by Kele.]


Now sing we, as we were wont,
Vexilla regis prodeunt.<2>

The King's banner on field is splayed,
The crosses myst'ry cannot be nay'd,
To whom our Saviour was betrayed,
And for our sake;
Thus saith he;
I suffer for thee,
My death I take,
Now sing we, &c.

Behold my shanks, behold my knees,                                                          10
Behold my head, arms, and
Behold of me nothing thou sees
But sorrow and pine;
Thus was I spilt,
Man, for thy guilt,
And not for mine.
Now sing we, &c.

Behold my body, how Jews it dong
With knots of whipcord and scourges strong;
As streams of a well the blood outsprung
On every side;                                                                                              20
The knots were knit,
Right well with wit,
They made wounds wide.
Now sing we, &c.

Man, thou shalt now understand,
Of my head, both foot and hand,
Are four c. and five thousand
Wounds and sixty;
Fifty and vii.
Were told full even
Upon my body.                                                                                           

Now sing we, &c.

Sith I for love bought thee so dear,
As thou may see thyself here,
I pray thee with a right good cheer
Love me again,
That it likes me
To suffer for thee
Now all this pain.
Now sing we, &c.

Man, understand now thou shall,
Instead of drink they gave me gall,
And eisel mingled therewithal,                                                                    40
The Jews fell;
These pains on me
I suffered for thee
To bring thee
fro hell.
Now sing we, &c.

Now for thy life thou hast misled,
Mercy to ask be thou not adread;
The least drop of blood that I for thee bled
Might cleanse thee soon
Of all the sin
The world within                                                                                         50
If thou hadst done.
Now sing we, &c.

I was more wrother with Judas,
For he would no mercy ask,
Than I was for his trespass
When he me sold;
I was ever ready
To grant him mercy,
But he none
Now sing we, &c.

Lo, how I hold my arms abroad,
Thee to receive ready y-spread!                                                                   60
For the great love that I to thee had
Well may thou know.
Some love again
I would full fain
Thou wouldest to me show.
Now sing we, &c.

For love I ask nothing of thee
But stand fast in faith, and sin thou flee,
And pain to live in honesty
Both night and day;
And thou shalt have bliss                                                                            
That never shall miss
Withouten nay.
Now sing we, &c.

Now, Jesu, for thy great goodness,
That for men suffered great hardness,
Save us from the devil's cruelness,
And to bliss us send,
And grant us grace
To see thy face
Withouten end.
Now sing we, &c.

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