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Coventry Carol

(Anonymous 15th Century)

Coventry Carol has been popular as a Christmas Carol for some time. It did not start its life as such, however. Some investigation about its origins showed that it formed part of a Mystery Play, a play for folks people in the Mediaeval times, based on Biblical or religious motives such as the play of Everyman.

This is the text of the song:

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

Oh 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.

That woe is me, poor child, for thee,
And ever mourn and pray.
For thy parting, neither say nor sing,
By by lully lullay.

Considering the text, the song is not about Christmas, but something which happened later: the Child-murder of Bethlehem by King Herod.

I made an arrangement of Coventry Carol for four guitars. One of the guitars beats the drums, playing the chords Tambora. If you choose to play the piece in trio formation, just pick the accompanyment (parts 3 or 4) which suits best.