The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

A Wassail, A Wassail

Words and Music: English Traditional
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF

Source: Lucy E. Broadwood and John Broadwood, Sussex Songs (Popular Songs of Sussex). London: Stanley Lucas, Weber & Co., 1890. Arrangements by H. F. Birch Reynardson

1. A wassail, a wassail, a wassail we begin,
With sugar plums and cinnamon, and other spices in;
    With a wassail, a wassail, a jolly wassail,
    And may joy come to you and to our wassail
    With a wassail, a wassail, a jolly wassail,
    And may joy come to you and to our wassail.

2. Good master and good mistress, as you sit by the fire,
Consider us poor wassailers, who travel thro’ the mire;—
    With a wassail, etc.

3. Good master and good mistress~ if you will be but willing,
Come, send us out your eldest son with sixpence or a shilling;—
    With a wassail, etc.

4. Good master and good mistress, if thus it should you please,
Come, send us out your white loaf, likewise your Christmas cheese;—
    With a wassail, etc.

5. Good master and good mistress, if you will so incline,
Come, send us out your roast beef, likewise your Christmas chine;—
    With a wassail, etc.

6. If you’ve any maids within your house, as I suppose you’ve none,
They’d not let us stand a wassailing so long~on this cold stone;—
    With a wassail, etc.

7. For we’ve wassailed all this day long, and nothing could we find,
But an owl in an ivy-bush, and her we left behind;—
With a wassail, etc.

8. We’ll cut a toast all round the loaf, and set it by the fire,
We’ll wassail bees, and apple-trees,1 unto your hearts desire;—
    With a wassail, etc.

9. Our purses they are empty, our purses they are thin,
They lack a little silver to line them well within;—
    With a wassail, etc.

10. Hang out your2 silver tankard upon your golden spear,
We’ll come no more a-wassailing, until another year;—
    With a wassail, etc.

Sheet Music

Notes from Broadwood:

1. Alluding to the custom of repeating certain rhymes to the bees and apple trees. Return

2. Or 'silken handkerchief’ as some sing. Return

"For other versions of the tune see Gilbert’s Carols, and Chappell’s 'Popular Music of the Olden Time’, Vol. 2, P. 752."

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