Hand by hand we shall us take,
And joy and bliss shall we make,
For the devil of hell man hath forsake,
And God's Son is made our make.
A child is born amongst man,
And in that child was no wam; [sin]
That child is God, that child is man,
And in that child our life began.
Sinful man, be blithe and glad
For your marriage; thy peace is grad [proclaimed]
When Christ was born;
Come to Christ; thy peace is grad;
For thee was his blood shed,
Who were forlorn. [lost]
Sinful man, be blithe and bold,
For heaven is both bought and sold,
Come to Christ; thy peace is told,
For thee he gave a hundredfold
His life to bote. [to redeem you]
This is one of the earliest surviving English carols, dating to the mid-fourteenth century. It actually survives in the middle of a sermon preached by a Franciscan friar; friars, following their founder's example, often used vernacular song in their preaching. This anonymous friar's sermon was on the wedding-feast of the Lamb in Revelations, which perhaps made him think of dance-songs and carolling, and explains the reference to 'your marriage' in the second verse; Christ has come to be our 'make', which means both 'equal' and 'bridegroom'. This carol doesn't have the exuberant merriment of some of its later successors, but it is full of joy nonetheless.
The unmodernised version, from MS. Bodley 26 (via Richard Greene, The Early English Carols, p. 6):
Honnd by honnd we schulle ous take,
And joye and blisse schulle we make,
For the deuel of ele man haght forsake,
And Godes Sone ys maked oure make.
A child is boren amonges man,
And in that child was no wam;
That child ys God, that child is man,
And in that child oure life bygan.
Senful man, be blithe and glad:
For your mariage thy peys ys grad
Wan Crist was boren;
Com to Crist; thy peis ys grad;
For the was hys blod ysched,
That were forloren.
Senful man, be blithe and bold,
For euene ys bothe boght and sold,
Com to Crist; thy peys ys told,
For the he yahf a hondrefold
Hys lif to bote.
(BL Royal 2 B VII, f. 189)
'Be blithe and glad', indeed! Merry Christmas!