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The First Good Joy that Mary had, it was the Joy of One
To know her own son_ Jesus was God's only Son
Was God's ONLY Son, good man and blessed may be he,
Father, Son, and HOLY Ghost To all eterni-ty.

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Source: Margaret Ashby, A Hertfordshire Christmas, Sutton Publishing

Having recently moved to Hertfordshire, I got out several books on local history, etc, including this one.   I quote:

In Herfordshire -as in other places - there was a sharing of good and well-loved tunes among songs.  About 1840 the Hoddesdon Waits used the following variant of "The Old Christmas Song" as their setting for a 12-verse version of "The Joys of Mary."  It was collected by the eminent folklorist Helen Creighton in Nova Scotia from Norma Smith of Halifax, who wrote of it:

My grandfather [Saunders] used to sing this every Christmas Day until he passed on.  He came to Canada from Hoddesdon, Herts.  He would only sing this on Christmas Day, no matter how we would coax to have it at other times.  When he was a tiny boy the Waits used to sing it in the village, and when he was old enough he would steal away from home and sing it with them. He was born in 1833. Because of the demi-semiquavers at the end he said only an Englishman could sing it.


This tune, as sung by the Hoddesdon Waits about 1840, may have been the dominant version used - if not originated - in Hertfordshire.  Most widely known today, however, is the so-called 'London' version (Oxford Book of Carols, 1928, no 12) as printed by Dr E. F. Rimbault in A Little Book of Christmas Carols in 1846.

Roud: 278 (Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six

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