A NEW YEAR WASSAILING SONG.

Here is a wassailing song celebrating the New Year. As mentioned in a previous post “Christmas Carols” wassailing was a way of roisterous singing by groups touring the neighbourhood- including the big House- seeking to exchange their music for gifts of mead or beer. The word “wassailing” goes back to Old and Middle English using the greeting “Waes hael” (“Be hale or in good health”). The practice is associated with fertility rites rooted deep in the past and as such this continued into the early twentieth century in rural areas in which, for instance, on Twelfth Night, in cider -making areas of England, there would be tree-wassailing with a group singing while cider -coated cakes would be placed under apple trees and cider would be poured around the trunks to encourage good growth the following season.

Here we come a-wassailing 
Among the leaves so green; 
Here we come a-wand'ring 
So fair to be soon. 
Love and joy come to you,
And to your wassail too; 
And God bless you and send you a Happy New Year.

Our wassail cup is made, 
Of the rosemary tree, 
And so is your beer 
Of the best barley.
Love and joy come to you 
And to your wassail too;
And God bless you and send you a Happy New Year.

We are not daily beggars 
That beg from door to door; 
But we are neighbour's children, 
Whom you have seen before. 
Love and joy come to you, 
And to your wassail too; 
And God bless you and send you a Happy New Year.

Call up the butler of this house, 
Put on his golden ring 
Let him bring us up a glass of beer, 
And better we shall sing. 
Love and joy come to you, 
And to your wassail too; 
And God bless you and send you a happy New Year.

We have got a little purse 
Of stretching leather skin; 
We  want a little of your money 
To line it well within. 
Love and joy come to you, 
And to your wassail too; 
And God bless you and send you a happy New Year.

Bring us out a table 
And spread it with a cloth; 
Bring us out some mouldy cheese 
And some of your Christmas loaf. 
Love and joy come to you, 
And to your wassail too; 
And God bless you and send you a Happy New Year.

God bless the master of this house 
Likewise the mistress too 
And all the little children 
That round the table go. 
Love and joy come to you, 
And to your wassail too;
And God bless you and send you a happy New Year.

Good master and good mistress, 
While you're sitting by the fire, 
Pray think of us poor children 
Who  are wandering in the mire, 
Love and joy come to you, 
And to your wassail too; 
And God bless you and send you a Happy New Year.   

It is a song which is jolly and full of good humour and just right for a season when the winter cold requires a counteractive resiliance and high spirits in country folk.

May we, with the wassailers, keep our hearts singing with good cheer!

Again You Tube has numerous recordings of this carol. My own favourite is from a folk group, The Watersons in an album “Frost and Fire ” which records songs which would have been sung by country folk at the various seasons and festivals of the year.

Published by alan

As a retired lecturer in English Literature with the Open University I continue to run reading groups on our literary heritage. This blog seeks to interest readers in enjoying and thinking about a wide range of classic novels, plays and poems

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