The Coventry Carol

Music: 16th. C. anon. arr. Mark Burstow. Words: Anon
performance time approx 2m 40s
Range T: a – f' / Bar: d♭ – a♭ / B: F – e♭
Price code: A
Complexity: *

See a perusal copy of the music.
Hear a synthesized rendering
This beautifully austere carol used to be sung in one of the Coventry mystery plays, or religious pageants, that were performed in major English towns in the 15th and 16th centuries. It is a lament by the women (or here, men!) of Bethlehem before Herod's murder of their young children and makes a good contrast to the more celebratory side of Christmas music. It should be sung as simply as possible; a ‘white’ tone with neither warmth nor rage is ideal.

Mark Burstow's arrangement is essentially a revoicing of the earliest version known of the carol — a setting for STB voices found in a manuscript dating from 1591.


Lully, lulla, thou little tiny child,
By, by, lully, lulla,
Thou little tiny child,
By, by, lully, lulla.

O sisters two,
How may we do
For to preserve this day
This poor youngling
For whom we do sing:
‘By, by, lully, lullay’?

Herod the King,
In his raging,
Chargèd 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 sigh.
For thy parting
Neither say nor sing:
‘By, by, lully, lullay’.

16th century carol (from dubious transcriptions of a manuscript lost in a library fire in 1875, spelling modernised)

Purchase – 4018: The Coventry Carol

Before you click the "buy" button, please enter the name of your group and select the appropriate size.
Name of group
Size of group
The price depends on the number of singers in your group. This is a single payment for a licence to make as many copies as you need for your group to rehearse and perform the song. You can also re-print - for instance, to replace copies that get lost or worn out.

Copies must not be given, lent, hired or sold to any other group.

Orders are normally despatched within 24 hours - not instantly, because each PDF file is created specially for the purchaser.

Canasg sales are processed via Paypal. Paypal lets you pay with a simple credit or debit card if you don't have a Paypal account. Your Paypal transaction will be in sterling and it will be converted automatically if your credit card draws on a different currency. Paypal passes none of your secure information to Canasg.

If you would like us to send an invoice before you pay, or if you would like your order priced in $US or Euros, then please e-mail your order to us instead of using the form above.

Canasg sells sheet music for choirs …

… in PDF format, delivered by e-mail, with a licence to print as many copies, and as often, as you like. The copies are for the exclusive use of one ensemble, and the licence doesn't let you give, lend, hire or sell them to anybody else. Please read the detail before you buy.

Copying permitted (terms and conditions apply!)

When you buy from us, you can make as many copies as you need of the music, and as often as you need - so you can replace lost or worn copies.

Free perusal copies

You can download a sample PDF from this site, and make a printed copy for your own use. It will be overprinted “sample”. It isn't licensed for rehearsal or performance.

Modest prices

We do not charge a price per copy. You pay according to the size of your group.

Keep in touch

You can bookmark this page to help you find it again. For new releases, seasonal suggestions, and other news, we invite you to opt in to our occasional mailing list. Opting out is easy, whenever you want to.

Keep me posted:

Email Marketing by VerticalResponse

"Liking" Canasg on Facebook is another way to get updates.

You can e-mail us via the link at the foot of this page. We're always interested in your suggestions and your experience with using this web site.

Canasg Choral Music Publishing Canasg Music
publishing refreshingly original choral music

16 Morningside Park,
Edinburgh EH10 5HB, Scotland
Contact us