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.
5. "Soli deo sit laudum gloria."
Smert and Trouluffe. f. 16b.
6. "Haue mercy on me, kyng of blisse."
"Smert Hicard de Plymptre."
7. "Regi canamus glorie." Anony
mous, f. 18b.
8. "0 radix Jesse." Anonymous,
f . 19b.
9. "Clavis David." " Smert."
10. "O David, thow nobeUe key."
Troulouffe, John, and Smert,
11. "Now make we ioye." Anony
mous, f. 28b.
12. "Jhesu fili virginis." Smert.
13. "Jhesu fili dei." "Smert" and
14. "Tydynges trew." Anonymous.
16. "Nascitur ex virgine." Smert.
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."
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.
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