“Hidden” Christmas Carols Everybody Should Know, part 1: The Wexford Carol

Every year when Christmas season rolls around, we sing Christmas carols, which are essentially Christian hymns that celebrate the incarnation of Jesus Christ.

Christmas carol season is brief,  just a few weeks each year. So, it’s understandable that the playlist is limited.  Most everybody knows the usual suspects: Joy to the World; The First Noel; Silent Night; Hark, the Herald Angels Sing; O Come, All Ye Faithful.

But there are other beautiful carols, less familiar to most people, that deserve to be known,  learned and sung.  Over the next few days, I want to share a few.

The Wexford Carol originated in Ireland, and dates to the 12th century, making it one of the oldest European carols.  There are many tradtions about it, including one that insisted that it should be sung only by men.

The text:

Good people all, this Christmas time,

Consider well and bear in mind

What our good God for us has done

In sending his beloved son

With Mary holy we should pray,

To God with love this Christmas Day

In Bethlehem upon that morn,

There was a blessed Messiah born.


The night before that happy tide
The noble Virgin and her guide
Were long time seeking up and down
To find a lodging in the town
But mark right well what came to pass
From every door repelled, alas
As was foretold, their refuge all
Was but a humble ox’s stall.
Near Bethlehem did shepherds keep
Their flocks of lambs and feeding sheep
To whom God’s angel did appear
Which put the shepherds in great fear
Arise and go, the angels said
To Bethlehem, be not afraid
For there you’ll find, this happy morn
A princely babe, sweet Jesus, born.
With thankful heart and joyful mind
The shepherds went the babe to find
And as God’s angel had foretold
They did our Saviour Christ behold
Within a manger he was laid
And by his side a virgin maid
Attending on the Lord of Life
Who came on earth to end all strife.
There were three wise men from afar
Directed by a glorious star
And on they wandered night and day
Until they came where Jesus lay
And when they came unto that place
Where our beloved Messiah lay
They humbly cast them at his feet
With gifts of gold and incense sweet.

Enjoy this version by Yo-Yo Ma and Alison Krause:

Or this from The King’s Singers:

One response

  1. I heard an instrumental rendition of “The Wexford Carol” on NPR late last night while I was cooking–believe it is one of my all-time favorites!

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