The First Noël: Who Wrote the Lyrics and When Was It Composed

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Christmas is just around the corner, and that means one thing: time to start blasting holiday tunes! One of the most popular Christmas songs is The First Noël. You might think it is French in origin, but have you ever wondered who wrote the lyrics and when it was composed? Keep reading to find out!
The First Noël: Who Wrote the Lyrics and When Was It Composed | Love to Sing

Christmas is just around the corner, and that means one thing: time to start blasting holiday tunes! One of the most popular Christmas songs is The First Noël. You might think it is French in origin, but have you ever wondered who wrote the lyrics and when it was composed? Keep reading to find out!

Who wrote the lyrics to The First Noël?

Originally called 'The First Nowell', The First Noël is a traditional Christmas carol originating from the Cornwall region in England. Believed to have been written around the 1400-1500s, the lyrics to The First Noël are actually an adaption of the original song. The true author may never be known! However, we do know its current form was first published in Carols Ancient and Modern (1823) and Gilbert and Sandys Carols (1833), both of which were edited by William Sandys and arranged, edited, and with extra lyrics written by Davies Gilbert for Hymns and Carols of God. The word Nowell is an early English synonym for Christmas, from the French season of Christmas - Noël. The French word Noël ultimately derives from the Latin word Natalis [dies] "[day] of birth".

The inspiration for this song comes primarily through Bible dramatizations - popular at Christmas time among those seeking miracles upon earthy eventful episodes like Jesus' birthright based on the Gospel accounts in Luke 2 and Matthew 2.





When was The First Noel composed?

The melody for The First Noël was composed by an English musician named William B. Sandys. He wrote it in 1823. The carol became popular in the Victorian era after it was featured in Carols Ancient and Modern (1823), which was edited by Sandys. The melody is thought to be French in origin. The first recording of The First Noël was made by The Columbia Quartet on December 6, 1917.

The First Noël is a timeless Christmas classic that has been recorded by many artists over the years. Some notable recordings include Nat King Cole, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, and Lady Gaga. No matter who is singing it, The First Noël is sure to get you into the holiday spirit!





What are the lyrics to The First Noel?

The first Noël the angels did say
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay
In fields where they lay keeping their sheep
On a cold winter’s night that was so deep 

Noël, Noël, Noël, Noël
Born is the King of Israel

They looked up and saw a star
Shining in the east, beyond them far
And to the earth it gave great light
And so it continued both day and night

Noël, Noël, Noël, Noël
Born is the King of Israel 

And by the light of that same star
Three Wise Men came from country far
To seek for a King was their intent
And to follow the star wherever it went 

Noël, Noël, Noël, Noël
Born is the King of Israel

This star drew nigh to the north-west
O’er Bethlehem it took its rest
And there it did both stop and stay
Right over the place where Jesus lay 

Noël, Noël, Noël, Noël
Born is the King of Israel 

Then entered in those Wise Men three
Fell reverently upon their knee
And offered there in his presence
Their gold and myrrh and frankincense 

Noël, Noël, Noël, Noël
Born is the King of Israel 

Then let us all with one accord
Sing praises to our heavenly Lord
That hath made heaven and earth of naught
And with his blood mankind hath bought

Noël, Noël, Noël, Noël
Born is the King of Israel

 

So there you have it! The next time you're jamming out to The First Noël, you can impress your friends with all the knowledge you've learned about its history!



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