William Morris wrote Masters in This Hall in 1860 and set his lyrics to a French carol tune obtained by his friend, publisher Edmund Sedding, from the organist at Chartres cathedral. When Nowell Sing We Clear was first developed in 1975, we learned this and several other songs from the invaluable 1938 edition of The Oxford Book of Carols.
Masters in this hall, hear ye news today.
Brought from over sea and ever I you pray
Nowell, nowell, nowell, nowell sing we clear!
Holpen are all folk on Earth, born is God’s Son so dear
Nowell, nowell, nowell, nowell sing we loud
God today hath poor folk raised and cast a-down the proud
Going o’er the hills, through the milk-white snow
Heard the lambs to bleat and saw the wind to blow
Shepherds, many a one, sat among the sheep
No man spoke more word than they had been asleep
Shepherds should of right leap and dance and sing
Wherefore do you sit before this wondrous thing
Then to Bethle’m town, went we two by two
Saw the new-born babe laid in a manger low
Ox and ass there were down on bended knee
Wondrous joy had I this little babe to see
This is Christ the Lord, masters be ye glad
Christmas is come in, and no man should be sad