A Christmas Carol
1. All you that in this house be here,
Remember Christ that for us died,
And spend away with modest cheer
In loving sort this Christmas tide.
2. And, whereas plenty God hath sent,
Give frankly to your friends in love:
The bounteous mind is freely bend,
And never will a niggard prove.
3. Our table spread within the hall,
I know a banquet is at hand,
And friendly sort to welcome all
That will unto their tacklings stand.
4. The maids are bonny girls, I see,
Who have provided much good cheer,
Which, at my dame's commandment, be
Now set upon the table here.
5. For I have here two knives in store,
To lend to him that wanteth one;
Commend my wits, good lads, therefore,
That come now hither having none.
6. For, if I should, no Christmas pie
Would fall, I doubt, unto my share;
Wherefore, I will my manhood try,
To fight a battle if I dare.
7. For pasty-crust, like castle walls,
Stands braving me unto my face;
I am not well until it falls,
And I made captain of the place.
8. The prunes, so lovely, look on me,
I cannot choose but venture on:
The pie-meat spiced brave I see,
The which I must not let alone.
9. Then, butler, fill me forth some beer,
My song hath made me somewhat dry;
And so again to this good cheer,
I'll quickly fall courageously.
10. And for my master I will pray,
With all that of his household are,
Both old and young, that long we may
Of God's good blessings have a share.
Sheet Music from William Henry Husk, Songs of the Nativity (London: John Camden Hotten, 1868)
This is from "New Carolls for this Mery Time of Christmas," published in 1661, where it is directed to be sung to the tune of "Essex's last Good Night," a ballad written on the untimely fate of Queen Elizabeth's favourite. The last two verses bear some resemblance to the concluding verse of an old carol of an exceedingly mediocre kind, on St. John the Baptist's day, viz: --
"Now kindly for my pretty song,
Good butler, draw some beer;
you know what dainties do belong
To him that sings so clear.
Holly and ivy to drink will drive ye
To the brown bowl of berry;
Apples and ale, with Christmas tale,
Will make a household merry."
Editor's Note: Husk was referring to When Bloody Herod Reigned King, verse 6.
Also found in Thomas Wright, Specimens of Old Christmas Carols Selected from Manuscripts and Printed Books (London: The Percy Society, 1841). Wright noted that it was from "New Carolls for this Mery Time of Christmas," 12 mo. Lond. 1661. This carol is printed in the "Archæologist," No. 1. It was sung to the tune of "Essex last good night."
Also found in William Sandys, Christmas-tide, Its History, Festivities and Carols, With Their Music (London: John Russell Smith, 1852), pp. 233-4, who notes "Sung to the Tune of 'Essex Last Good Night.'"
Also found in Joshua Sylvester, A Garland of Christmas Carols, Ancient and Modern (London: John Camden Hotten, 1861)
At the Restoration, Christmas Carols once more came into fashion. The following pleasing little composition is extracted from "New Carrols for this Merry Time of Christmas," 1661.
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.
Edward F. Rimbault brought this carol to the attention of the readers of Notes and Queries (Third Series-Second Volume) on Saturday, Dec. 20, 1862, p. 488, citing the same source. He introduced the carol with:
An Old Christmas Carol
The Ashmolean Museum (Anthony Wood's Collection) contains several rare little tracts, appertaining to the present season of the year, which are worth treble their weight in gold. Among them are The Examination and Tryal of Old Father Christmas, 1655; Christmas Carols, 1642; New Carols for this Merry time of Christmas, 1661; Christmas Carols, fit also to be sung at Easter; New Christmas Carols, 1688, &c.
A Carol, extracted from the brochure of 1661, may not be unacceptable to the readers of "N. & Q.": —
"All you that in this house be here ..."
He included all ten verses.
Dr. Rimbault published A Little Book Of Christmas Carols in 1847, although he did not include this carol.
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