The Massacre of the Holy Innocents – the Coventry Carol

Now, they [the Magi] having departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appears in a dream to Joseph, saying: “Arise, take to thee the little child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be there until I shall tell thee; for Herod will seek the little child to destroy it.” Then Herod perceiving that he was deluded by the wise men, was exceeding angry; and sent forth, and killed all the men children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the borders thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremias the prophet, saying: “A voice in Rama was heard, lamentation and great mourning; Rachel bewailing her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.”

(Matthew 2:13,16-18).

Millions of other “Holy Innocents” are also losing their lives daily today through the evil of abortion. They are not even given the chance to be born.

Add to that the countless numbers of martyrs who lose their lives for bearing the name of “Christian believers”. On Christmas Day alone, at least 37 innocent Christians in the world have been reported murdered!

May all these dear “holy innocents” pray before the throne of God for us, still struggling here on Earth in a world that is growing continually more hostile to the followers of Christ.


The Coventry Carol originated in a 16th century “mystery play” called the Pageant of the Shearman and Tailors. The play and the song concern the massacre of the young children of Bethlehem at the command of King Herod. It is a evocative lament that is imagined in the play to have been sung by the mothers whose children have been murdered by Herod’s cruelty; it combines the sound of their weeping with the gentle cadences of a lullaby:

Lullay thou little tiny child,
Bye, bye lully lullay.
O sisters, too how may we do,
For to preserve this day;
This poor youngling for whom we sing,
Bye bye lully lullay.
Herod the king, in his raging
Charged he hath this day;
His men of might in his own sight
All young children to slay.
Then woe is me, poor child for thee
And ever mourn and say;
For thy parting, no say nor sing
Bye bye lully lullay
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2 Responses to The Massacre of the Holy Innocents – the Coventry Carol

  1. Roger says:

    Thank you Kathleen.
    There are depths to the Christmas gospels which because of familiarity are glossed over. The Shepherds and “watching by Night” Sleeping in Darkness and not watching is very relevant today because of the Darkness of Sin.
    The Magi were NOT under the control of the Temple. Herod was a sartrap Ruler (not of the line of David) and the Temple and High Priests under secular political pressure and control. So how very unwelcome was the Message of the Magi. The Magi message came from unwritten sources what would today be considered doubtful. No different from the Holy Shroud or Great public Apparations. Herod’s intent with the murder of the Holy Innocents was to KILL GOD!
    Man whose Father is God created with Body, Spirit, Soul of which the least important is the Flesh. Abortion is Satanic and of the darkness. So we live in a time of Great Darkness.
    Lets not mince words here with Gay Marriage, Divorce, Abortion the Western Democracy’s are Dictatorships no different from Herod


  2. Pingback: The Massacre of the Holy Innocents – the Coventry Carol | Vatican Report

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