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This carol is set to the familiar tune of "Greensleeves." This lovely tune has a long and interesting history, though in the interest of keeping the record straight, there is no documentation supporting the rumor that it was written by King Henry VIII. It was first published by Richard Jones in 1580 (over 30 years after Henry's death), was danced in the court of Queen Elizabeth I, mentioned repeatedly by Shakespeare, and has survived through multiple incarnations as a love song, dance, and hymn tune. "Carol for New Year's Day" is one of its earlier adaptations, printed under the title "The Old Year Now Is Fled" in the collection New Christmas Carrols in 1642. It is fortunate for us that the 1642 collection was published when it was, since a mere two years later, Oliver Cromwell enforced an Act of Parliament which banned Christmas and all other holiday celebrations.


The old year now away is fled
The new year it is entered,
Then let us now our sins down tread
And joyfully all appear.
Let's merry be this holiday
Come let us run with sport and play.
Hang sorrow! Cast care away
God send you a happy new year!

And now, with new-year's gifts each friend
Unto each other they do send,
God grant we may our lives amend,
And that the truth may appear.
Now, like the snake, cast off your skin
Of evil thoughts, and wicked sin,
And to amend this new year begin,
God send us a merry new year!

And now let all the company
In friendly manner all agree,
For we are here welcome, all may see
Unto this jolly good cheer.
I thank my master and my dame,
To which are founders of the same.
To eat, to drink now is no shame,
God send us a merry new year!