The Oxen

Carol written by John Byrt. It is a setting of the poem by Thomas Hardy.

Written for Christmas morning 2002 for the family to sing. They were all coming to John and Celia’s home for Chirstmas dinner so there were a fair few of them, mixed ability which is why it’s not too difficult, but they all loved it, the tune is so melodious. They have sung it every Christmas since, with varying numbers of singers.

This performance is believed to be by Exeter Chorale.

Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.
‘Now they are all on their knees’ 
An elder said as we sat in a flock
By the embers in hearth-side ease.
We pictured the meek mild creatures where
They dwelt strawy pen,
Nor did it occur rto one of us there
To doubt they were kneeling then.
So fair a fancy few would weave
In these years!
Yet I feel
If someone said on Christmas Eve,
‘Come; see the oxen kneel
In the lonely barton by yonder coomb
Our childhood used to know’,
I should go with him in the gloom,
Hoping it might be so.