English folk carol of unknown authorship usually performed at Christmas. Collected in the early part of the 20th century by English folk song collectors in Shropshire and Herefordshire, a number of variations on the tune exist, but the text remains broadly similar. Ralph Vaughan Williams also collected a version, The Herefordshire Carol, which only included verses 1 to 5.
Sung by Mr. Seth Vandrell and Mr. Samuel Bradley of Donnington Wood, Shropshire.
This carol was sung to me by the two singers in unison, Mr. Vandrell refreshing his memory by referring to a small book of carols, printed locally, from which the words in the text have been transcribed. I have, however, omitted seven stanzas between the eighth and the last. "The Truth" is printed in A Good Christmas Box, and is included in Hone's list.
A version of this carol to a different tune and with four stanzas only of the words, noted by Dr. Vaughan Williams at King's Pyon, is printed in The Folk-Song Society's Journal (IV, p. 17). For a variant of the tune see "There is a Fountain" in the same publication (IV, p. 21).