About the piece

The exact origins of this joyful carol are unknown, but one of the first people to write it down was Sir Richard Smerte, a 15th-century chorister-turned-vicar who lived at Plymtree, near Exeter, and was Devon’s first recorded musician. His version became known to a wider audience in 1928, when Ralph Vaughan Williams, Percy Dearmur and Martin Shaw included it in their influential Oxford Book of Carols.

“Sir Christemas” is written for Tenor Solo, Semi-chorus and SATB Choir, and uses features from both Medieval music and contemporary music to create an effective 21st century carol.


Below you can find the text to the poem, believed to be by Sir Richard Smerte:

Nowell, Nowell, Nowell, Nowell.
Who is there that singeth so,
Nowell, Nowell, Nowell?

I am here, Sir Christemas.
Welcome, my lord Sir Christemas!
Welcome to us all, both more and less!
Come near, Nowell.

Dieu vous garde, beaux sieurs, tidings I you bring:
A maid hath borne a child full young,
The which causeth you for to sing:

Christ is now born of a pure maid;
In an ox-stall he is laid,
Wherefore sing we all at a brayde:

Buvez bien par toute la compagnie,
Make good cheer and be right merry,
And sing with us now joyfully:

Sample Score

Purchase Score

To purchase the score for “Sir Christemas”, please visit Quinlan Music, where all orders are fulfilled.

Performance Licensing

All performances of this piece must be carried out with a performance license. The licensing costs for performances of this piece from September 2017 are as follows:

  • Single performance; £20
  • Multiple performances; £20 for the first performance, followed by £10 for each additional performance.

Amateur and religious choirs can perform this work free of charge, but must still obtain a license.

To purchase a license, please contact the Quinlan Music Licensing Department.