John Speller's Web Pages I am here, Sir Christemas

John Speller's Web Pages - Boar's Head Carols

I am here, Sir Christemas
This carol, found in a sixteenth-century MS, where the tune is attributed to Ric(h)ard Smert (or Smart), Rector of Plymtree, Devon 1435-1477 and a Vicar-Choral of Exeter Cathedral 1428-65. He was heavily into Christmas and is said to have been the first person in England to personify the season as "Sir Christemas," paving the way for the familiar figure of "Father Christmas." The tune is given in the first volume of John Stafford Smith's Musica Antiqua. The word underlay in the second to fourth stanzas is not given and is very uncertain.

British Library Additional MS 6665, ff. 7b-58, Paper and vellum; 15th-16th cent. large octavo, contains the following: Carols for 2 solo voices, with 3-part choruses, in parts. Many appear to be the joint productions of Richard Smert, of Plymtree, Co. Devon, and John Truelove. 1. " Nowelle . . . tydynges gode y thyng to telle." "Smert." In J. Stafford Smith's Musica Antiqua, and Joseph Ritson's Ancient Songs. 1 7b. 2. "Nowelle . . . who ys there that syngith so?" By the same. In the same works, f. 8b. 3. "Mervele not, Joseph." Anonymous. In Mueica Antiqua, L 10. 4. "Man, be joyfull." Smert. f. lib. 5. "Soli deo sit laudum gloria." Smert and Trouluffe. f. 16b. 6. "Haue mercy on me, kyng of blisse." "Smert Hicard de Plymptre." f.l7b. 7. "Regi canamus glorie." Anony mous, f. 18b. 8. "0 radix Jesse." Anonymous, f . 19b. 9. "Clavis David." " Smert." f.20b. 10. "O David, thow nobeUe key." Troulouffe, John, and Smert, Ric. f.21b. 11. "Now make we ioye." Anony mous, f. 28b. 12. "Jhesu fili virginis." Smert. f.29b. 13. "Jhesu fili dei." "Smert" and Trouluffe. f.82b. 14. "Tydynges trew." Anonymous. f.88b. 16. "Nascitur ex virgine." Smert. f.84b. 16. "Do welle and drede no man." Anonymous, f. 85b. 17. "Alleluya. Now may we myrthis make." Anonymous, f . d6b. 187 "Preface, welcom. This tyme ys borne a chylde of grace." Anony mous, f. d9b. 19. "Jhesu fili virginis" (different from no. 12). Anonymous, f. 48b. 20. "Blessed mote be, swete Jhesus." Smert. f.62b. 21-28. "Nesciens mater virgo virum peperit." Three settings. "Trou luffe." The name of Smert is also given at the end of the third one. ff . 54b, 56b, 57b.

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The interior of the Church of St. John the Baptist, Plymtree, near Exeter, with its beautiful medieval rood screen. Richard Smert was responsible for rebuilding the church in its present form while he was Rector there in 1460
Exterior of St. John-the-Baptist, Plymtree, Devon. Originally built in 1261 and rebuilt by Rector Richard Smert in 1460
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