The Sussex Carol was so called because it was recorded in Sussex in the late nineteenth century, but by the time Ralph Vaughan Williams heard it and set it to music, it was already centuries old. The first record of it was in Bishop Wadding's collection A Small Garland of Pious and Godly Songs, published in 1684, but whether he wrote it, or only wrote it down, is unknown.
On Christmas night all Christians sing,
To hear the news the angels bring,
News of great joy, news of great mirth,
News of our merciful King's birth.
Then why should men on earth be so sad,
Since our redeemer made us glad,
When from our sin he set us free,
All for to gain our liberty?
When sin departs before his grace,
Then life and health come in its place;
Angels and men with joy may sing,
All for to see the new-born king.
All out of darkness we have light,
Which made the angels sing this night:
Glory to God and peace to men,
Now and for evermore. Amen.