I come from heuin to tell

I come from heaven to tell

16th c. Scottish with approximate English translation

[Note: I am no scholar of 16th c. Scottish. If you are, and see mistakes I have made, please with the appropriate correction(s) and I will update this page (and give you credit, unless you ask me not to).]




Text: Wedderburn brothers, pub. 1567


English paraphrase (Alan Humm)
I come from heuin to tell
The best nowellis that euer be fell,
To zow thir tythinges trew I bring,
And I will of them say and sing.
I come from heaven to tell
The best news that ever befell.
To you these true tidings I bring,
And of them I will say and sing.
This day, to zow, is borne ane childe
Of Marie meik, and Virgin milde;
That blissit barne bening and kynde,
Sall zow reioyis, baith hart and mynde.
This day to you is borne a child
Of Mary meek and virgin mild;
That blessed born, benign and kind
You shall (make you) rejoice, both heart and mind.
It is the Lord, Christ, God and Man,
He will do for zow quhat he can:
Him self zour Sauiour will be,
Fra sin and hell, to make zow fré.
It is the Lord, Christ, God and man.
He will do for you what he can:
Himself our savior will be,
From sin and hell to make you free.
He is zour rycht Saluatioun,
From euerlasting Dampnatioun:
That ze may Ring in gloir and blis,
For euer mair in heuin with his.
He is our true salvation
From everlasting damnation
That he may sing in glory and bliss
(And) may (be) forever in heaven with his.
Ze sall him find, but mark or wying,
Full sempill in ane Cribe lying:
So lyis he quhilk zow hes wrocht,
And all this warld maid of nocht.
You shall find him, without mark or imperfection,
Simply in a crib lying.
So lies he quiet (as) though he's wrought,
And all this world made of naught.
Lat vs reioyis and be blyith,
And with the Hyrdis go full swyith,
And sé quhat God of his grace hes done,
Throw Christ to bring vs to his throne.
Let us rejoice and be glad,
And with the heralds go very swiftly,
And see what God in his grace has done
Through Christ to bring us to his throne.
My Saull and lyfe stand up and sé
Quha lyis in ane Cribbe of tré;
Quhat Babe is that, so gude and fair?
It is Christ, Goddis Sone and air.
My soul and life stand up and see
What lies in a wooden crib.
What babe is that, so good and fair?
It is Christ, God's son and heir.
Welcome now, gracious God of mycht,
To sinnaris vyle, pure and vnrycht.
Thou come to saif vs from distres,
How can we thank thy gentilnes?
Welcome now, gracious God of might,
To vile sinners, pure and right.
You came to save us from distress;
How can we thank (for) your gentleness?
O God that maid all Creature,
How art thow becumit sa pure,
That on the hay and stray will ly,
Amang the Assis, Oxin and Ky?
O God that made every creature,
How did you become so poor,
That on the hay and straw will lie
Among the asses, oxen, and cows?
And war the warld ten tymes sa wyde,
Cled ouer with gold, and stanis of pryde,
Unworthie it war, zit to thé,
Under thy feit ane stule to be.
And was the world ten times as wide,
All clad with gold, and precious stones,
It would be, for you, unworthy
To be a stool under your feet.
The Sylk and Sandell, thé to eis,
Ar hay, and sempill sweilling clais,
Quhairin thow gloris greitest King,
As thow in heuin war in thy Ring.
As silk and voile1, to you
Are hay and simple swaddling clothes,
Within which you (are) glory's greatest king
As if you were reigning in heaven.
Thow tuke sic panis temporall,
To mak me ryche perpetuall.
For all this warldis welth and gude,
Can na thing ryche thy celsitude.
You took such temporal pain
To make me perpetually rich,
For all this world's wealth and good
Cannot enrich your celestiality.
O my deir hart, zung Jesus sweit,
Prepare thy creddill in my Spreit,
And I sall rock thé in my hart,
And neuer mair fra thé depart.
O my dear heart, sweet young Jesus,
Prepare your cradle in my spirit,
And I will rock you in my heart,
And never more from you depart.
Bot I sall pryse thé euer moir,
With sangis sweit vnto thy gloir:
The kneis of my hart sall I bow,
And sing that rycht Balulalow.
But I will praise you evermore
With sweet songs to your glory.
I shall bow the knees of my heart
And sing that true cradle song.2
Gloir be to God Eternallie,
Quhilk gaif his onlie Sone for me:
The angellis Joyis for to heir,
The gracious gift of this new Zeir.
Glory be to God eternal,
Who gave his only son for me:
The angels rejoice to hear (of)
The gracious gift of this new year.


1 “voile” Sandell: According to Dr. Edith Rickert, this was a “thin silken stuff.” Translating it as ‘voile’ is simply an attempt to appromimate the general the texture from the world of modern fabrics.

2 “cradle song” Balulalow: translates the German ‘Susaninne’ (see the German translation, note 2). It is a Scottish reference to a nonsence song sung to young children.

Page and English interpretation: ©  Copyright 2019 Alan Humm.
The Scottish column by the Wedderburn brothers (pub. 1567) is obviously in the public domain.