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Calypso Carol

The Christmas Carol – Calypso Carol

Amazon ImageThe Calypso Carol is a popular modern Christmas carol, with the opening line “See him lying on a bed of straw”.

It has actually commonly been presented by BBC announcers and others as a traditional folk carol from the West Indies. The calypso of the title refers to its West Indian flavor, and the words have featured on a set of Caribbean postage stamps. Nonetheless, both words and music were written by an Englishman, Michael Perry, while he was a student at Oak Hill Theological College in 1964. Perry turneded into one of the UK’s leading contemporary hymn authors, however the Calypso Carol stayed his most popular work.

Perry originally composed the tune for a college carol show, and it just became popular by mishap. Cliff Richard was hastily putting together a selection for radio, and consisted of the tune to change a missing recording. It obtained popularity and was included in the 1969 songbook Youth Praise 2.

In 1983, the Caribbean island of Nevis featured the chorus of “Calypso Carol” on a miniature sheet of its 1983 Christmas stamps, designed by Jennifer Toombs. The surrounding island of St Kitts issued a complementary sheet with the somewhat older song “Mary’s Boy Child”.

The long-running BBC program Songs of Praise welcomed viewers to vote for their preferred carols throughout 2005. Tens of thousands of votes were cast, and the Calypso Carol was one of the top 10 choices, done at the Songs of Praise 2005 Christmas Concert at the Royal Albert Hall.


Calypso Carol

See him a-lying on a bed of straw
Draughty stable with an open door
Mary cradling the babe she bore
The prince of glory is his name.

Oh, now carry me to Bethlehem
To see the Lord appear to men
Just as poor as was the stable then
The prince of glory when he came.

Star of silver sweeps across the skies
Show where Jesus in the manger lies
Shepherds swiftly from your stupor rise
To see the Saviour of the world.

Mine are riches from thy poverty
From thine innocence, eternity
Mine, forgiveness by thy death for me
Child of sorrow, for my joy.

Angels, sing again the song you sang
Bring God’s glory to the heart of man
Sing, “Bethlehem’s little baby can
Be salvation to the soul.”

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