The First Noel
The first Noel the angel did say
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay;
In fields where they lay tending their sheep,
On a cold winter’s night that was so deep.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.
They lookèd up and saw a star
Shining in the east, beyond them far;
And to the earth it gave great light,
And so it continued both day and night.
And by the light of that same star
Three wise men came from country far;
To seek for a king was their intent,
And to follow the star wherever it went.
This star drew nigh to the northwest,
Over Bethlehem it took its rest;
And there it did both stop and stay,
Right over the place where Jesus lay.
Then did they know assuredly
Within that house the King did lie;
One entered it them for to see,
And found the Babe in poverty.
Then entered in those wise men three,
Full reverently upon the knee,
And offered there, in His presence,
Their gold and myrrh and frankincense.
Between an ox stall and an ass,
This Child truly there He was;
For want of clothing they did Him lay
All in a manger, among the hay.
Then let us all with one accord
Sing praises to our heavenly Lord;
That hath made Heaven and earth of naught,
And with His blood mankind hath bought.
If we in our time shall do well,
We shall be free from death and hell;
For God hath prepared for us all
A resting place in general.
The First Noel is unknown in origin but is generally thought to be English dating back to the sixteenth century. There is a misconception that the First Noel was French and it is believed that this is because of the French spelling of Noel as opposed to the olde English Anglo-Saxon spelling of the word as in Nowell. After England was captured by the Normans numerous words were adopted from the Norman French language and Noel was re-spelt as Nowell, early printed versions of this carol use the Nowell spelling. The First Noel was first published in 1833 when it appeared in “Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern,” a collection of seasonal carols gathered by William B. Sandys.