And mysterious it is. "The Bellman's Carol" also known as "The Moon Shines Bright" is mysterious and haunting. I am drawn more to these solemn-sounding Carols, with my favourite being "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" - perhaps it is the Minor scale that makes them more appealing to me and reflects the dark, wintry nights within which Christmas sits. Carols such as "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" are just too high and bounding, and do not feel Christmassy to me.
It seems to me that some of lyrics of this carol are a little heavy. Lots of Death and Jesus included here, and whereas you might think, "Well, it IS Christmas," my Christmas is never about that. My Christmas is all the better for not having Christ in it at all. Seeing as the Winter Mass Celebration was adopted by the church for Christ's birthday, and that this carol has many differentiating lyrics, it seems only reasonable to me to change and evolve the carol into a piece of further meaning and Christmas warmth. See below for my new version of the carol, alongside the original version.
The moon shines bright, and the stars give a light
a little before the day,
and hark! the Bellman of the night
does bade us awake and play.
Awake, awake, good people all,
awake and you shall hear
that all around the frosted streets
are filled with Christmas cheer.
And in these winter days of dark
our fears we ignite:
our troubled sorrows fall away
in warmth of our own light.
O fair, O fair, O Hungerford,
when shall I come to thee?
When shall your bells resound, resound
in joy that I may see?
The fields were green, as green could be -
but now are lit by white,
for in the air and 'cross the ground
all snowfall fills our sight.
My song is done, I must be gone,
I can stay no longer here -
O bless you all, both great and small,
And send you a joyful New Year!
The moon shines bright and the stars give light
A little before the day
Our Lord, Our God, he called on us
And bade us awake and pray!
Awake, Awake! good people all,
Awake and you shall hear
The Lord our God, died on the cross
For us whom he loved so dear.
And for the saving of our souls
Christ died upon the cross,
We ne'er shall do for Jesus Christ
As he has done for us.
O fair, O fair Jerusalem,
When shall I come to thee?
When shall my sorrows have an end,
Thy joy that I may see?
The fields were green as green could be,
When from His glorious seat,
Our Lord, our God, he watered us,
With His heavenly dew so sweet.
My song is done, I must be gone,
I can stay no longer here,
God bless you all, both great and small,
And send you a joyful New Year.
The life of a man it is but a span,
It's like a mourning flower;
We're here to day, to-morrow we are gone
We are dead all in one hour.
O teach them well your children, dear man,
While you have got them here;
It will be better for your soul, dear man,
When your corpse lies on the bier.
To-day you may be living, dear man,
With a many thousand pound;
To-morrow you may be dead, dear man,
And your corpse lie underground.
Awake, awake, oh pretty, pretty maid,
Out of your drowsy dream,
And step into your dairy below
And fetch me a bowl of cream:
If not a bowl of your sweet cream
A mug of your brown beer,
For the Lord knows where we shall meet again
To be maying another year.
I have been rambling all this night
And best part of this day.
And now have returnèd back again,
And have brought you a branch of may.