This piece originates from 16th-century England. The title was originally spelled "The First Nowell," reflecting its Anglo roots. It was changed to the French spelling of the word for Christmas, "Noel," when the song was published in an 1833 collection of carols.
The first Noel, the angel did say,
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay;
in fields where they lay keeping their sheep,
On a cold winter's night that was so deep,
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.
They looked up and saw a star
Shining in the East, beyond them far;
And to the earth it gave great light,
And so it continued both day and night.
And by the light of that same star,
Three wise men came from country far;
To seek for a King was their intent,
And to follow the star wherever it went.
Ths star drew night to the northwest,
O'er Bethlehem it took its rest;
And there it did both stop and stay,
Right over the place where Jesus lay.
Then entered in those wise men three,
Full reverently upon their knee;
And offered there in His presence,
Their gold, and myrrh, and frankincense.