Monday, December 29, 2008

"The Truth Sent From Above"

You are probably familiar with the Coventry Carol, and perhaps even with the Wexford Carol, but have you ever heard of the Herefordshire Christmas Carol? "This is the Truth Sent from Above," was one of several rediscovered and preserved by Ralph Vaughan-Williams. In 1909, he transcribed it from a performance by Ella Leather, a Herefordshire folk singer, who had learnt the carol through the oral tradition of folk music. The text recalls the fall from grace of Adam, and the promise of redemption by Jesus. (via Ancient Groove Music )

As a confirmed Vaughan-Williams fan, I was delighted to discover this work, and even happier to be able to listen to a 1995 recording of it by the Choir of King's College, Cambridge. Sadly, they only sing verses 1-6. The carol seems to have had a difficult time getting all its verses straight, muchless sung. According to Ancient Groove music,

"in almost all printed editions (including The Oxford Book of Carols and the ubiquitous Carols for Choirs), several of the verses are missing. The missing text leads to a presumably unintended faux pas, with the second verse ending 'Woman was made with man to dwell', and the next verse starting 'Thus we were heirs to endless woes'! Obviously, man's woes do not stem simply from dwelling with woman!"

So below I include the complete lyrics, including the elusive verses 3 and 4. ; )

Source: Cecil J. Sharp, English Folk-Carols (London: Novello & Co., Ltd., 1911), pp. 46-7.

1. This is the truth sent from above,
The truth of God, the God of love;
Therefore don’t turn me from your door,
But hearken all, both rich and poor.

2. The first thing, which I do relate,
That God at first did man create
The next thing, which to you I tell,
Woman was made with him to dwell.

3. Then after this, ‘twas God’s own choice
To place them both in Paradise,
There to remain from evil free
Except they ate of such a tree.

4. But they did eat, which was a sin,
And thus their ruin did begin;
Ruined themselves, both you and me,
And all of their posterity.

5. Thus we were heirs to endless woes,
Till God the Lord did interpose
For so a promise soon did run
That He’d redeem us with a Son.

6. And at this season of the year
Our blest Redeemer did appear
He here did live, and here did preach,
And many thousands He did teach.

7. Thus He in love to us behaved,
To show us how we must be saved
And if you want to know the way
Be pleased to hear what He did say.

8. Go preach the Gospel new, He said,
To all the nations that are made
And he that does believe in me,
From all his sins I’ll set him free.

9. God grant to all within this place
True saving faith—that special grace,
Which to His people doth belong—
And thus I close my Christmas song.

It is a fitting carol for all those who like to call themselves "missional."


Janice Skivington said...

Happy New Year to you dear Beth.
I continue to enjoy and learn from your postings.
Thank you so much with helping me to launch my own blog. And Thank you for all the fun and wisdom that you share.

Rick said...

That is lovely both in text and tune. My only edit would be to adjust verse 8 so that lines 3 and 4 precede lines 1 and 2.