The story behind the song - The First Noel

Tha Original Melody of The First Noel (Nowell) was Composed by an Anomymous Writer



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The original version of The First Noel dates back to at least the 17th century. In 1823, William B. Sandys (1792-1874), and Davies Gilbert (1767-1839) edited and added lyrics to create the version we sing today. The origin of the current melody is uncertain.

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The publication of Sandy's 1823 book Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern has historical significance in that it was the first of its kind to include many of the songs we now consider classic Carols. Songs such as God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, The First Nowell, I Saw Threes Ships Come Sailing In, and Hark the Herald Angels Sing had their public debut in this songbook.

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In varied Christmas Carol books the song title will either read Noel, or Nowell. The English word Nowell is from the French word Noel, which means Christmas which is derived from the Latin word natalis which means birth.

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The First Noel

Refrain:
Noel! Noel! Noel! Noel!
Born is the King of Israel!

The first 'Noel!' the angels did say
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay;
In fields where they lay keeping their sheep,
On a cold winter's night that was so deep.

For all to see there was a star
Shining in the east, beyond them far;
And to the earth it gave great light,
And so it continued both day and night.

And by the light of that same star
Three wise men came from country far;
To seek for a King was their intent,
And to follow the star wherever it went.

This star drew nigh to the northwest:
O'er Bethlehem it took its rest;
And there it did both stop and stay,
Right over the place where Jesus lay.

Then did they know assuredly
Within that house the King did lie;
One entered in then for to see,
And found the Babe in poverty.

Then entered in those wise men three,
Full rev'rently upon their knee,
And offered there, in his presence,
Both gold and myrrh, and frankincense.

Between an ox-stall and an ass
This Child there truly borned was;
For want of clothing they did him lay
All in the manger, among the hay.

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.

If we in our time shall do well
We shall be free from death and hell,
For God hath prepared for us all
A resting-place in general.

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Written by: Connie Ruth Christiansen