Coventry Carol


Robert Croo (16th c.)

A familiar Christmas card image is that of Joseph leading Mary and the baby Jesus on a donkey in the desert night as refugees, fleeing Bethlehem and the murderous wrath of King Herod. Coventry Carol  tells the dark story from the book of Matthew of Herod's brutal paranoia and his slaying of the innocents. Two thousand years later there are many King Herods in the world— those who will stop at nothing to maintain or gain a grip on power and as a result, today over 16 million people— half of them children are refugees.  In the original 16th century nativity play, women of Coventry, England portrayed the women of Bethlehem singing this lullaby with babes in arms, immediately after Joseph is warned by the angel to fee into Egypt.  Fittingly, this haunting arrangement is well suited for the women's voice.


Item Voicing/Instrumentation Duration Price Audio View Score Quantity
digital download
SSAA, piano 2:30 $2.00
JS-069 digital purchase only N/A


Joan Szymko

Coventry Carol (1534)

Lully, lullay, thou little tiny child,
Bye bye, lully, lullay.
Lully, lullay, thou little tiny child,
Bye bye, lully, lullay.
O sisters too, how may we do
For to preserve this day
This poor youngling for whom we sing,
"Bye bye, lully, lullay"?
Herod the king, in his raging,
Charged he hath this day
His men of might in his own sight
All young children to slay.
That woe is me, poor child, for thee
And ever mourn and may
For thy parting neither say nor sing,
"Bye bye, lully, lullay."


digital download