Best Carols: The First Nowell

At this time of year, it is my privilege, or burden, to select the carols we sing. Some of them are too hollow, too unknown, or too well-known. So I’ll tell you four of my favourites, one day at a time 

One of the best is The First Nowell. It is claimed to originate in the sixteenth or seventeenth centuries, with one source claiming it to be from the thirteenth. That itself doesn’t make it a great song, but its words, accompanied by its exhilarating tune, do. As well as summing up the entire natal narrative, it ends on a theological explanation of why Christ was born- the shedding of his adult blood:


Then let us all with one accord,

Sing praises to our heavenly Lord;

That hath made heaven and earth of nought,

And with his blood mankind hath bought.


Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel, 

born is the King of Israel.


'Tween an ox, manger and an ass,

Our Blest Messiah's place it was;

To save us all from bond and thrall,

He was a Redeemer for us all!