The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Bring Us In Good Ale, And Bring Us In Good Ale

For Twelfth Night

Words: English Traditional from Bodleian Ms. Eng. Poet. e. 1

Compare: Bring Us Home Good Ale, Sir (Ritson, 1790)
Bryne Us In No Browne Bred (Thomas Wright, 1847)
Bring Us In Good Ale (Edith Rickert, 1914)

See generally Wassailing - Notes On The Songs

Music: Not Stated

Source: E. K. Chambers and F. Sidegwick, eds., Early English Lyrics (London: A. H. Bullen, 1907), #CXXVIII, p. 222-223.

Bring us in good ale, and bring us in good ale ;
For our blessed Lady sake bring us in good ale !

Bring us in no browne bred, for that is made of brane,
Nor bring us in no white bred, for therein is no gane,
    But bring us in good ale ! 

Bring us in no befe, for there is many bones,
But bring us in good ale, for that goth downe at ones,
    And bring us in good ale !

Bring us in no bacon, for that is passing fate,
But bring us in god ale, and gife us enought of that ;
    And bring us in good ale !

Bring us in no mutton, for that is often lene,
Nor bring us in no tripes, for they be seldom clene,
    But bring us in good ale !

Bring us in no egges, for there are many schelles, 
But bring us in good ale, and gife us nothing elles ;
    And bring us in good ale !

Bring us in no butter, for therein are many heres,
Nor bring us in no pigges flesch, for that will make us bores,
    But bring us in good ale !

Bring us in no podinges, for therein is all Godes good,
Nor bring us in no venesen, for that is not for our blod 
    But bring us in good ale !

Bring us in no capons flesch, for that is ofte dere,
Nor bring us in no dokes flesch, for they slober in the mere,
    But bring us in good ale !

Notes to CXXVIII , pp. 370-371.

Eng. Poet, e. 1. Printed Wright, P. S., 63 ; E.B,M., ii. 183 (facsimile, i. plate C) ; Chappell, 42. All these give the words as attached to a tune, which, however, seems properly to belong to another poem (Wright, P.S., 79), beginning : --

'Tydyngis trew ther be cum new
Sent from the trynyte'.

At the foot of the music is written 'Thys is the tewyn for the song foloyng ; yf so be that ye wyll haue a nother tewyn, it may be at yowre plesur, for I haue set alle the songe.'

Another version in Harl. 541, printed Ritson (1790), xxxiv; (1829), i. xlix ; Hazlitt-Ritson, xliii.

16. nothing; MS. reads 'noyng'.

Extended Citations:

Eng. Poet, e. 1. Printed

Wright, P. S., 63 ;
Thomas Wright, ed., Songs and Carols Now First Printed From a Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century (Percy Society, 1847), p. 63. [Texts from Eng. Poet, e.1, then in Wright’s possession.]

E.B,M., ii. 183 (facsimile, i. plate C) ;
Sir John Stainer, ed., Early Bodleian Music. Sacred and Secular Songs together with other MS. Compositions in the Bodleian Library, Oxford : ranging from about a.d. 1185 to about a.d. 1505. With an Introduction by E. W. B. Nicholson, and Transcriptions into Modern Musical Notation by J, F. R. Stainer and C. Stainer. Two volumes (vol. i, facsimiles, vol. ii, transcriptions), 1901.

Chappell, 42.
William Chappell, ed., The Ballad Literature and Popular Music of the Olden Time. The airs harmonized by G. A. Macfarren. Two vols. (but continuous pagination). [1855-1859.] In some copies the title begins with ‘Popular Music,’ &c. Sec also Wooldridge-Chappell.

To another poem (Wright, P.S., 79), Nowell, Nowell (This is the saluctacion off the aungell Gabriell).
Thomas Wright, ed., Songs and Carols Now First Printed From a Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century (Percy Society, 1847), p. 79. [Texts from Eng. Poet, e.1, then in Wright’s possession.].

Another version in Harl. 541, Bring Us Home Good Ale, Sir, printed

Ritson (1790),  xxxiv; 
Joseph Ritson, ed., Ancient Songs, from the time of King Henry the Third to the Revolution. (London: J. Johnson, 1790), p. xxxiv. "Advertisement in 1829 edition says that this edition was printed in 1787, dated 1790, and published 1792."

[Ritson] (1829), i. xlix ; 
Joseph Ritson. ed,. Ancient Songs and Ballads, from the reign of King Henry the Second to the Revolution. Volume 1 of 2 vols. (London: For Payne and Foss by Thomas Davison, 1829), p. xlix

Hazlitt-Ritson, xliii.
Joseph Ritson, ed., Ancient Songs and Ballads From the Reign of King Henry the Second to the Revolution. Third Edition, revised W. Carew Hazlitt. (London: Reeves and Turner, 1877), p. xliii.

See generally Wassailing - Notes On The Songs.

Eng. Poet. e. 1.
Eng. Poet. e. 1. Paper, 6 x 4 1/4. ‘Seventy six songs, religious and other, including some Christmas carols and drinking songs, presumably collected for the use of a professed minstrel’ (Madan, v. 679). Written partly in English, partly in Latin, partly in both. In several hands ; two pieces of music (facsimiles in E.B.M.). Variants of several poems in Sloane 2593. Dated 1460-80 by Madan, and ‘about 1485-90’ by Nicholson in E.B.M. Belonged in 1847 to Thomas Wright, but was then lost, and was said to have been taken away by the bookbinder to whom it was entrusted (Chappell, 43, note). It was bought for the Bodleian in 1887 at the sale of the library of Joseph Mayer, who was a patron of Wright’s. Described by Madan as above, and in E.B.M., i. xxiv. Edited complete by Wright in 1847 as No. LXXIII of the Percy Society publications (misquoted XXIII by Flügel, Fehr, and others, owing to an error in the Brit. Mus. Catalogue).

Editor's Note: The reference to "XXIII" (23) is to the Volume number published by the Percy Society's series Early English Poetry, Ballads, and Popular Literature of the Middle Ages. Wright's work was Number LXXIII (73) in their list of publications.

MS Eng. Poet. e. 1. is located in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. Madan is Falconer Madan, Richard W. Hunt, et al., Summary Catalogue of the Western Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library. 7 volumes in 8. (Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1895-1953). E.B.M. refers to Sir John Stainer, ed., Early Bodleian Music. Sacred and Secular Songs together with other MS. Compositions in the Bodleian Library, Oxford : ranging from about a.d. 1185 to about a.d. 1505. Two volumes (vol. i, facsimiles, vol. ii, transcriptions) (London : Novello ; New York : Novello, Ewer, 1901). With an Introduction by E. W. B. Nicholson, and Transcriptions into Modern Musical Notation by J. F. R. Stainer and C. Stainer. A third volume was subsequently published.

The complete description by Madan, pp. 679-680:

29734. In English and Latin, on paper: written about A. D. 1460-80 by several hands : 6 1/4 x 4 3/4 in., in a box lined with red velvet 7 1/4 x 5 3/8 in., 64 leaves : stained and worn in parts, but repaired : binding, green morocco with gold ornament, done for mr. J. Mayer (19th cent.).

Seventy-six songs, religious and other, including some Christmas carols and drinking songs, presumably collected for the use of a professed minstrel : a few have the music as well as the words (foll. 40v , 41v , 50v).

This valuable MS. was edited for the Percy Society (vol. 23) in 1847, see also W. Chappell's Popular Music of the Olden Time (1855-7), i. 41. Most of the songs are in English or mixed English and Latin, a few in Latin alone.

In 1847 this volume was owned by Thomas Wright, who edited it : he subsequently lost it, and it was bought by the Bodleian at the Joseph Mayer sale (lot 42) on July 19, 1887, for £16.

[On this MS. see further 'Early Bodleian music' i. p. xxiv and plates 99-100 (where I have ascribed the date 'about 1485-90'), ii. pp. 182-4. E. W. B. N.]

Now MS. Eng. poet. e. 1.

Source: Falconer Madan, A summary catalogue of Western manuscripts in the Bodleian Library at Oxford which have not hitherto been catalogued in the quarto series with references to the Oriental and other manuscripts. Vol. V: Collections received during the second half of the 19th century and miscellaneous MSS. acquired between 1695 and 1890. Nos. 24331-31000. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1905), pp. 679-80.

In the Preface to Songs and Carols Now First Printed From a Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century, Thomas Wright wrote:

The following very curious collection of old English Songs and Carols is printed verbatim from a manuscript at present in the possession of the Editor. It appears by the writing and language to have been written in the latter half of the fifteenth century, probably during the period intervening between the latter end of the reign of Henry VI [1421-1471], and the beginning of that of Henry VII [1457-1509]; a date which is confirmed by the fact that the few other copies of songs in this collection that occur elsewhere, are invariably found in manuscripts of the reign of Henry VI or of the age immediately following.

This manuscript has in all probability belonged to a professed minstrel, who sang at festivals and merry makings, and it has therefore been thought to merit publication entire, as giving a general view of the classes of poetry then popular. A rather large proportion of its contents consists of carols and religious songs, such as were sung at Christmas, and perhaps at some other of the great festivals of the church; and these are interesting illustrations of the manners and customs of the age.

Another class of productions, in which this manuscript is for its date peculiarly rich, consists of drinking songs, some of which are singular in their form and not wanting in spirit. The collection also contains a number of those satirical songs against the fair sex, which were so common in the middle ages, and which have a certain degree of importance as showing the condition of private society among our forefathers. In addition to these three classes, the manuscript contains a few short moral poems, which also are not without their peculiar interest.

Manuscript collections of songs like the present, of so early a date, are of great rarity. The only one with which I am acquainted, which may be considered of exactly the same character, is the MS. Sloane, No 2593, in the British Museum, which has generally been ascribed to the reign of Henry VI.

See: Songs and Carols Printed From A Manuscript in the Sloane Collection in the British Museum (London: William Pickering, 1836); twenty songs and carols from Sloane MS 2593, and Songs and Carols from a Manuscript in the British Museum of the Fifteenth Century (The Warton Club, 1856); the complete Sloane MS 2593.

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