"Past Three O'Clock" (or "Past Three a Clock") is an English Christmas carol, loosely based on the call of the traditional London waits, musicians and watchmen who patrolled during the night, using a musical instrument to show they were on duty and to mark the hours. The refrain dates from at least the early modern period, appearing in print in a 1665 supplement to John Playford's The Dancing Master.
The words were written by George Ratcliffe Woodward (1848–1934) to the traditional tune "London Waits". Woodward added lines to the traditional refrain in a style characteristic of his delight in archaic poetry. It was published in A Cambridge Carol Book: Being Fifty-two Songs for Christmas, Easter and Other Seasons in 1924.
Recordings of the carol include those by the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge, the Choir of King's College, Cambridge, the Monteverdi Choir., the Renaissance Singers, James Galway and the National Philharmonic Orchestra and The Chieftains on the album The Bells of Dublin, (1991). It features in the third movement of Patric Standford's A Christmas Carol Symphony (1978).
- "Waits". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). 1911.
- "Past Three O'Clock". Hymns and Carols of Christmas. Retrieved 24 January 2021.
- London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.
- Novello and Co Ltd.
- EMI: CDM 7 69950 2
- Once As I Remember... Philips: 462050
- James Galway's Christmas Carol at allmusic.com
- "A Christmas Carol Symphony". Patric Standford homepage. Retrieved 24 January 2021.
- The Cambridge Carol-Book: Being Fifty-Two Songs for Easter, Christmas, and Other Seasons (with scans of original)