Musical arrangement by Mark Hayes / Maureen Howell, pianist
The Wexford Carol
THE WEXFORD CAROL (aka “Good People All, This Christmas Time”) comes from County Wexford, Ireland, and like any true carol belongs to the folk, to nobody in particular and everybody at the same time. True carols are learned and handed down through the context of generational and community living. According to the Oxford Book of Carols, this particular one seems to be rooted in both Irish and English traditions:
Good people all, this Christmas time,
Consider well and bear in mind
What our good God for us has done
In sending his beloved son
With Mary holy we should pray,
To God with love this Christmas Day
In Bethlehem upon that morn,
There was a blessed Messiah born.
The night before that happy tide,
The noble Virgin and her guide
Were long time seeking up and down
To find a lodging in the town.
But mark how all things came to pass
From every door repelled, alas,
As was foretold, their refuge all
Was but a humble ox’s stall.
Near Bethlehem did shepherds keep
Their flocks of lambs and feeding sheep
To whom God’s angels did appear
Which put the shepherds in great fear
Prepare and go, the angels said
To Bethlehem, be not afraid
For there you’ll find, this happy morn
A princely babe, sweet Jesus, born.
With thankful heart and joyful mind
The shepherds went the babe to find
And as God’s angel had foretold
They did our Saviour Christ behold
Within a manger he was laid
And by his side the virgin maid
Attending on the Lord of Life
Who came on earth to end all strife.
There were three wise men from afar
Directed by a glorious star
And on they wandered night and day
Until they came where Jesus lay
And when they came unto that place
Where our beloved Messiah lay
They humbly cast them at his feet
With gifts of gold and incense sweet.
In addition to telling the Christmas story, the carol lyrics offer this takeaway for the singer and the “good people” alike:
(1) consider well . . ., (2) bear in mind . . ., (3) and mark how all things came to pass.
May it be that in this season, we also stop to listen, and to consider, bear in mind, and mark how things came (and continue to come) to pass. Because the story contains a gift that is unpackable with every telling of it.
thank you for coming to us
in a vulnerable newborn baby.
Open our ears to be able to hear,
consider, and reflect well on the story
every time it is told in our midst,
because it never ceases to be
full of miracle and mystery and
because it never grows old. Amen.
Maureen Howell serves Crestwood Christian Church, Lexington, KY as Office Administrator & Pianist and has been posting these wonderful audio reflections weekly on their Facebook page.