Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sunday Poetry - Christmas

Past Three A Clock (picture from here) is another of my favourite Christmas carols. Although it sounds ancient, only the refrain & the tune is old. It was a waits song from the seventeenth century when men would call the hours in the streets. The carol is a 20th century composition by George Ratcliffe Wood. In the recordings I've heard, it's always sung by a male choir & the refrain is very addictive. It gets into my head & I find I'm humming it, walking, chopping or typing in time with it. I love the English homeliness of the words. Bringing cheese, butter & honey for Mary & the hinds searching for Jesus over the dewy lawn. If you don't know it, there's a performance here by Kings College Choir.

        Past three a clock,
        And a cold frosty morning,
        Past three a clock;
        Good morrow, masters all!

Born is a Baby,
Gentle as may be,
Son of the eternal
Father supernal.

        Past three a clock,
        And a cold frosty morning,
        Past three a clock;
        Good morrow, masters all!

Seraph quire singeth,
Angel bell ringeth;
Hark how they rime it,
Time it and chime it. Refrain.

Mid earth rejoices
Hearing such voices
e'ertofore so well
Carolling Nowell. Refrain.

Hinds o'er the pearly,
Dewy lawn early
Seek the high Stranger
Laid in the manger. Refrain.

Cheese from the dairy
Bring they for Mary
And, not for money,
Butter and honey. Refrain.

Light out of star-land
Leadeth from far land
Princes, to meet him,
Worship and greet him. Refrain.

Myrrh from full coffer,
Incense they offer;
Nor is the golden
Nugget withholden. Refrain

Thus they: I pray you,
Up, sirs, nor stay you
Till ye confess him
Likewise and bless him. Refrain.


  1. Thanks so much for posting this. I had never heard this carol so I looked on utube and found it sung by the Cambridge Singers. Absolutely beautiful. Thanks for sharing this treasure!

  2. Oops...I just now noticed your link to the King's College Choir. Ever better!

    1. It is lovely, isn't it? I'll have to listen to the Cambridge Singers version now!

  3. Oh, this is especially nice! Not only is this carol beautiful, but I don't think I've ever heard of it before! Merry Christmas, Lyn!

    1. Merry Christmas, Audrey. Once it gets in my head, I have a hard time getting rid of it!

  4. Thank you so much - I enjoyed this, it made me feel that I was in England for a little while. Thanks especially for posting the lyrics, which made listening even better.

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it, Diana. It's one of my favourites.