A mother's lament for her doomed child

Feast of the Holy Innocents

Celebrated on December 28th

The traditional Christmas carol “Coventry Carol” sung by the choir of
Westminster Cathedral.

The “Coventry Carol” is a Christmas carol dating from the 16th Century. The carol was performed in Coventry as part of a mystery play called The Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors. The play depicts the Christmas story from chapter two in the Gospel of Matthew. The carol refers to the Massacre of the Innocents, in which Herod orders all male infants under the age of two in Bethlehem to be killed. The lyrics of this haunting carol represent a mother’s lament for her doomed child. It is the only carol that has survived from this play.

Lullay, lullay
My little tiny child
By-by, lullay, lullay

Lullay, lullay
My little tiny child
By-by, lullay, lullay

Oh, sisters two
How may we do
For to preserve this day?

This poor youngling
Of whom we do sing
By-by, lullay, 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, lullay, lullay

Lullay, lullay
My little tiny child
By-by, lullay, lullay

Lullay, lullay
My little tiny child
By-by, lullay, lu
By-by, lullay, lu
By-by, lullay, lu

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