The Herefordshire Christmas Carol, This is the Truth Sent from Above, was one of several folk tunes preserved and popularized by Ralph Vaughan-Williams. In 1909, he transcribed it from Ella Leather, a collector of Herefordshire folk music, who had herself recieved it from a Mr W Jenkins, a folk singer from Kings Pyon.
The text recalls the fall from grace of Adam, and the promise of redemption by Jesus.
However, in almost all printed editions (including The Oxford Book of Carols and the ubiquitous Carols for Choirs), several of the verses are missing. The missing text leads to a presumably unintended faux pas, with the second verse ending ‘Woman was made with man to dwell’, and the next verse starting ‘Thus we were heirs to endless woes’!
Obviously, man's woes do not stem simply from dwelling with woman!
In the interests of literary accuracy and domestic harmony, and in keeping with the Christmas spirit of peace and goodwill, the complete text is presented here.
This is the truth sent from above,
The truth of God, the God of love:
Therefore don’t turn me from your door,
But hearken all, both rich and poor.
The first thing which I do relate
Is that God did man create,
The next thing which to you I’ll tell,
Woman was made with man to dwell.
Then, after this, ’twas God’s own choice
To place them both in Paradise,
There to remain, from evil free,
Except they ate of such a tree.
But they did eat, which was a sin,
And thus their ruin did begin.
Ruined themselves, both you and me,
And all of their posterity.
Thus we were heirs to endless woes,
Till God the Lord did interpose,
And so a promise soon did run,
That he would redeem us by his Son.
And at this season of the year
Our blest Redeemer did appear,
And here did live, and here did preach,
and many thousands he did teach.
Thus he in love to us behaved,
To show us how we must be saved;
And if you want to know the way,
Be pleased to hear what he did say:
"Go preach the Gospel," now he said,
"To all the nations that are made!
And he that does believe on me,
From all his sins I'll set him free."
O seek! O seek of God above
That saving faith that works by love!
And, if he's pleased to grant thee this,
Thou'rt sure to have eternal bliss.
God grant to all within this place
True saving faith, that special grace
Which to his people doth belong:
And thus I close my Christmas song.
Taken from English Folk-Carols by Cecil J. Sharp, (London: Novello, 1911), pp 46-47.