When was the 'Sussex Carol' written and composed?

From the cheery opening ‘On Christmas Night’ to the final triumphant ‘Amen!’, the 'Sussex Carol' is one of celebration. The words were first published way back in 1684, but it was not until 1919 that composers Cecil Sharp and Ralph Vaughan Williams first wrote down, independently, the lilting melody. The latter heard the carol sung by Harriet Verall of Monk’s Gate in Sussex – hence the title.


But it was David Willcocks who brought the carol its real fame with his 1961 arrangement, which Jeremy Suter, master of the music at Carlisle Cathedral, describes as having ‘all that is compelling in a choir carol: a beautiful melody enhanced by an attractive organ part, some enjoyable double choir work, a descant and an uplifting ending’.

We named the 'Sussex Carol' one of the best Christmas carols ever

What are the lyrics the 'Sussex Carol'?

On Christmas night all Christians sing
To hear what news those angels bring;
News of great joy, news of great mirth,
News of our Saviour King's own birth.

Then why should men on earth be so sad
Since our Redeemer made us glad,
When from sin He set us free
All for to gain our liberty.

Now sin depart, behold His grace,
Everlasting life comes in its place,
And soon we shall its terror see
And poor and rich must conquered be.

Then out of darkness we see light,
Which makes all angels to sing this night
Glory to God and peace to men
Both now and evermore. Amen.


You can find more lyrics to your favourite Christmas carols here