Monday, December 24, 2012

"Coventry Carol" by the Westminster Cathedral Choir

The "little tiny child" in this carol isn't the infant Jesus, instead he is one of the many innocents slaughtered under orders of Herod (Matthew 2:16). The song originated in the sixteenth century; its lyrics have been passed down through various transcriptions over the years. Wikipedia gives this modern attempt at a reconstruction of the original:

Lully, lullay, Thou little tiny Child,
Bye, bye, lully, lullay.
Lullay, thou little tiny Child,
Bye, bye, lully, lullay.
O sisters too, how may we do,
For to preserve this day
This poor youngling for whom we do sing
Bye, bye, lully, lullay.
Herod, the king, in his raging,
Charged he hath this day
His men of might, in his own sight,
All young children to slay.
That woe is me, poor Child for Thee!
And ever mourn and sigh,
For thy parting neither say nor sing,
Bye, bye, lully, lullay.
The city of Coventry, in the English Midlands, suffered its own massacre of the innocents on November 14, 1940, when a Luftwaffe firebomb raid killed over 800 people, injured thousands, destroyed 4,000 houses, and reduced historic Coventry Cathedral to a shell.