The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

A Bone, God Wot!

For Christmas

Also found under these titles:
"A Christenmesse Carroll"
"A Carol In Praise of Ale"

Words and Music: English Traditional

Source: William Henry Husk, Songs of the Nativity (London: John Camden Hotten, 1868)

Compare: A bonne! God wote - Thomas Wright
See generally Wassailing - Notes On The Songs

1. A bone, God wot!
Sticks in my throat
Without I have a draught
Of cornie ale,
Nappy and stale,
My life lies in great waste.
Some ale or beer,
Gentle butler,
Some liquor thou us show,
Such as you mash
Our throats to wash,
The best ware that you brew.

2. Saint, master, and knight,
That Saint Malt hight,
Were pressed between two stones;
That sweet humour
Of his liquor
Would make us sing at once.
Master Wortley, I dare well say,
I tell you as I think,
Would not, I say,
Bid us this day,
But that we should have drink.

3. His men so tall
Walk up his hall,
With many a comely disk;
Of his good meat
I cannot eat,
Without I drink, I wis.
Now give us drink,
And let cat wink,
I tell you all at once,
It sticks so sore,
I may sing no more,
Till I have drunken once.

Husk's Note:

This curious specimen of an ancient drinking song is contained in a manuscript written early in the sixteenth century, and preserved in the Cottonian collection in the British Museum. It bears the title of "A Christenmesse Carroll."

Also found in Joshua Sylvester, A Garland of Christmas Carols, Ancient and Modern (London: John Camden Hotten, 1861), under the title "A Carol In Praise of Ale," and with this note:

It has been remarked that during the continuance of the Christmas banquet there is no doubt but that various Carols were sung, either by the assembled company, or by the attendant minstrels, having, for their subject-matter, neither reference to the religious origin of the festival, nor to any of the particular ceremonies connected with it. The following drinking-song was probably of the number. It occurs in a MS. of the sixteenth century, in the British Museum, and is there entitled " A Christenmasse Carroll."!

Note that Hugh Keyte, an editor of The New Oxford Book of Carols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992) believes that "Joshua Sylvester" is a pseudonym for a collaboration between William Sandys (1792-1874) and William Henry Husk (1814-1887). See Appendix 4.

Also found in Edith Rickert, Ancient English Christmas Carols: 1400-1700 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1914), p. 246. Rickert gives the date as in the reign of Henry VIII.

Also found in Henry Vizetelly, Christmas With The Poets (London: David Bogue, 1851) gives the title as "A Christenmesse Carroll" and puts the source as a manuscript at the commencement of the sixteenth century, then in the British Museum (MS Cott. Vesp. A, XXV., fol. 168, vo).

Vizetelly also notes that "Good ale, however, like most other things when taken in excess, is attended by certain inconveniences, as the following song, who forms an appropriate moral to the two preceding ones [this and Bring Us In Good Ale], will serve to explain:" Ale Makes Many A Man To Stick At A Brier.

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