Nowell sing we both all and some, Now Rex pacificus is y-come. Ex ortum est in love and liss, now Christ his grace he gan us giss, etc.Compare the tongue-in-cheek elegy by John Skelton, which ended with the lines:
Sepultus est among the weeds, God forgive him his misdeeds, With hey ho, rumbelo, Rumpopulorum, Per omnia saecula, Saecula saeculorum.As this example shows, macaronics were generally employed for comic effect, mixing Latin words and phrases with the vernacular in whatever silly way the metre would allow. Latin–English macaronic verse usually has a doggerel quality, partly because rhymes are so much easier to come by in Latin than in our own language with its ill-assorted collection of stolen words. But in ‘Nowell sing we’, the macaronic is employed with a perfectly serious intent, using bits of Latin that every Englishman of the times would have known from the Mass, and not at the end of the line for easy rhyming, but at the beginning of each verse to introduce a particular topic. Each verse ends with the line ‘Both all and some’, which seems like an oxymoron, but in fact is probably the shortest possible way of putting the central paradox in the Christian doctrine of salvation. Christ died for us all, so that we might all be saved; but it remains with each one of us to accept or reject that gift, and only some of us, in the end, will do so. The blood of Christ is pro vobis et pro multis effundetur, ‘poured out for you and for many’ – a reminder that the efficacy of the gift is not extended to all, and in particular, not to those who sincerely refuse it. It is, in effect, a gift for ‘both all and some’. Here, for all and some, is ‘Nowell sing we’.