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The text of this carol was written by the English poet Mary Botham Howitt (1799-1888). Mrs. Howitt seems to have written it in the 1820s, and it is found in 88 Carols & Hymns for Christmas, Otley,Yorkshire: William Walker & Sons, ca. 1830. It is also sung to a folk carol tune in the Sheffield area of Yorkshire. The composer of the tune, William Fisk Sherwin (1826-1888) was a student of Lowell Mason. He was a Baptist organist and teacher who lived in Cincinnati. There are two other American tunes from the 1870s and 1880s, one by Fred Schilling, and another by Charles C. Converse.

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William Fisk Sherwin (1826-1888)
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