Acton Institute Powerblog

The Coventry Carol

Share this article:
Join the Discussion:

The Coventry Carol (Words Attributed to Robert Croo, 1534; English Melody, 1591). Click here for MIDI version (and sing along!)

Lully, lulla, thou little tiny child,
By by, lully lullay.
Lully, lulla, thou little tiny child,
By by, lully lullay.

O sisters, too, how may we do,
For to preserve this day;
This poor Youngling for whom we sing,
By, by, lully, lullay.

Herod the King, in his raging,
Charged he hath this day;
His men of might, in his own sight,
All children young, to slay.

Then woe is me, poor Child, for Thee,
And ever mourn and say;
For Thy parting, nor say nor sing,
By, by, lully, lullay

Lully, lulla, thou little tiny child,
By by, lully lullay.
Lully, lulla, thou little tiny child,
By by, lully lullay.


This song was “part of a play called The Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors. The haunting melody was sung by the mothers of Bethlehem to their children, just before King Herod’s soldiers entered the scene (for the slaughter).”

Here’s the biblical text, following the flight of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph to Egypt:

When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

“A voice is heard in Ramah, / weeping and great mourning, / Rachel weeping for her children / and refusing to be comforted, / because they are no more.”

Jordan J. Ballor Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is a senior research fellow and director of publishing at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty, where he also serves as executive editor the Journal of Markets & Morality. He is author of Get Your Hands Dirty: Essays on Christian Social Thought (and Action) (Wipf & Stock, 2013), Covenant, Causality, and Law: A Study in the Theology of Wolfgang Musculus (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2012) and Ecumenical Babel: Confusing Economic Ideology and the Church's Social Witness (Christian's Library Press, 2010), as well as editor of numerous works, including Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology. Jordan is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary. He has authored articles in academic publications such as The Journal of Religion, Scottish Journal of Theology, Reformation & Renaissance Review, and Journal of Scholarly Publishing, and has written popular pieces for newspapers including the Detroit News, Orange County Register, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In 2006, Jordan was profiled in the book, The Relevant Nation: 50 Activists, Artists And Innovators Who Are Changing The World Through Faith. Jordan's scholarly interests include Reformation studies, church-state relations, theological anthropology, social ethics, theology and economics, and research methodology. Jordan is a member of the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA), and he resides in Jenison, Michigan with his wife and three children.

Comments

  • See [url=http://new-media-coventry.blogspot.com/2006/06/lully-lulla.html]my blog[/url] about an artwork based on this carol.