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Awake, Arise Good Christians

[ Roud 17709 ; trad.]

Awake, Arise Good Christians is a carol from the Sheffield village carols tradition. Carollers at the Royal Hotel in Dungworth sang it on December 2, 1973 on the Leader LP A People's Carol: A Christmas singing tradition recorded in South Yorkshire pubs. Another recording from the Royal Hotel in 1995 was included on the CD English Village Carols: Traditional Christmas Carolling from the Southern Pennines. Prof. Ian Russell commented in the album's booklet:

This well-loved local carol is a favourite in Stannington, Dungworth, Worrall, Oughtibridge, and Ecclesfield. Its lyrics serve as a remainder that several of these carols were written to be sung out of doors in the middle of a winter's night when most people would be tucked up in bed asleep. Oral tradition attributes it to William Mount of Worrall, before 1880, who was the leader of the Big Set and played the cello. As an aid to memory, the carollers delight in assigning fanciful lyrics to the tunes of different symphonies, this one being “When the beer is on the table…” The carol has not been found outside the district.

Prof. Russell's Village Carols website lists a longer version (Awake, Arise Good Christians) than the one sung in Sheffield and shown here. The American Library of Congress credits it to W.F. Sherwin (New York: Biglow & Main, 1871). This version has five verses, two that are also in the Sheffield version and three others.

Kate Rusby sang Awake, Arise Good Christians in 2008 on her Christmas CD Sweet Bells.

Jon Boden, Jess and Richard Arrowsmith, Gavin Davenport, Fay Hield and Sam Sweeney sang Awake, Arise Good Christians at the Royal Hotel in Dungworth as the December 19, 2010 entry of Jon's project A Folk Song a Day.

Lyrics

Awake, Arise Good Christians as sung at the Royal Hotel

Awake, arise good Christians, let nothing you dismay,
Remember Christ our Saviour was born upon this day!
The self-same moon was shining as now is in the sky,
When a holy band of angels came down from God on high!

Chorus (after each verse):
Hosannah! Hosannah! To Jesus we'll sing,
Hosannah! Hosannah! Our Saviour, our King.

“Fear not, we bring glad tidings, for on this happy morn,
The promised One, the Saviour, in Bethlehem's town was born!”
Up rose the simple shepherds, all with a joyful mind,
“Then let us go in haste,” they say, “This Holy Child to find.”

And like unto the shepherds, we wander far and near,
And bid you wake, good Christians, the joyful news to hear;
Awake, arise, good Christians! Let nothing you dismay,
Remember Christ our Saviour was born upon this day.

(repeat first verse)

Kate Rusby sings Awake, Arise Good Christians

Awake, arise good Christians, let nothing you dismay,
For unto us our Saviour was born upon this day!
The self-same moon was shining that now is in the sky,
When a holy band of angels came down from God on high!

Chorus (after each verse):
Hosannah! Hosannah! To Jesus we'll sing,
Hosannah! Hosannah! Our Saviour, our King.

“Fear not, we bring good tidings, for on this happy morn,
The promised One, the Saviour, in Bethlehem's town was born!”
Up rose the simple shepherds, all with a joyful mind,
“Then let us go in haste,” they say, “This Holy Child to find.”

And like unto the shepherds, we wander far and near,
And bid you wake, good Christians, the joyful news to hear:
Awake, arise, good Christians, Let nothing you dismay,
For unto us our Saviour was born upon this day!

(repeat first verse)