SATB and Solo
“The First Nowell” (also written “The First Noël” or “The First Noel”) is a traditional English Christmas carol with Cornish origins, most likely from the early modern period, although possibly earlier.
“The First Nowell” is of Cornish origin. Its current form was first published in Carols Ancient and Modern (1823) and Gilbert and Sandys Carols (1833), both of which were edited by William Sandys and arranged, edited and with extra lyrics written by Davies Gilbert for Hymns and Carols of God. Nowell is an Early Modern English synonym of “Christmas” from French Noël “the Christmas season”, ultimately from Latin natalis [dies] “[day] of birth”. The word was regularly used in the burden of carols in the middle ages towards the early modern period; Sir Christèmas (Ritson Manuscript, “Nowell sing we now all and some” (Trinity Carol Roll)and “Nowel – out of youre slepe arise and wake” (Selden Carol Book) being 15th century examples.