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A virgin unspotted

A virgin unspotted, the prophet foretold. English traditional carol. An alternative first line begins ‘A virgin most pure, as the prophets foretold’. The text appears in many different versions. It originated probably in the western counties of England, perhaps in broadsheets: it is found in William Sandys*’s Christmas Carols, Ancient and Modern, including the most popular in the West of England, with the tunes to which they are sung (1833). The New Oxford Book of Carols identifies the first occurrence of the text as being in New Carolls for Merry Time of Christmas (1661), the only known copy of which is in the Bodleian Library at Oxford. It was later made popular by its printing in...

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