The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Bryng Us In No Browne Bred

A Wassailing Song for the Twelfth Night

Words and Music: Traditional English
Bodleian Library. MS. Eng. Poet. e. 1. XV Cent.
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF

Source: Thomas Wright, Songs and Carols Now First Printed, From a Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century (London: The Percy Society, 1847), Song #56b, p. 63, printed verbatim from a manuscript probably owned by a professional musician, and apparently written in the latter half of the fifteenth century, circa 1471-1485.

Compare: Bring Us Home Good Ale, Sir (Ritson, 1790)
Bring Us In Good Ale, And Bring Us In Good Ale (Chambers and Sidgwick, 1907)
Bring Us In Good Ale (Edith Rickert, 1914)
See generally Wassailing - Notes On The Songs

Bryng us in good ale, and bryng us in good ale;
For owr blyssyd lady sak, bryng us in good ale.

Bryne us in no browne bred, for that is made of brane,
Nor bryng us in no whyt bred, for theriun is no game.
            But bryng us in good ale.

Bryng us in no befe, for ther is many bonys,
But bryng us in good ale, for that goth downe at onys;
            But bryng us in good ale.

Bryng us in no bacon, for that is passyng fate,
But bryng us in god  ale, and gyfe us i-nought of tht;
            But bryng us in good ale.

Bryng us in no mutton, for tht is often lene,
Nor bryng us in no trypes, for thei be syldom clene;
            But bryng us in good ale.

Bryng us in no eggys, for ther ar many schelles,
But bryng us in good ale, and gyfe us no[th]yng ellys;
            But bryng us in good ale.

Bryng us in no butter, for therin ar many herys;
Nor bryng us in no pygges flesch, for that wyl make us borys;
            But bryng us in good ale.

Bryng us in no podynges, for therin is al Godes good;
Nor bryng us in no venesen, for that is not for owr blod;
            But bryng us in good ale.

Bryng us in no capons flesch, for tht is ofte der;
Nor bryng us in no dokes flesche, for thei slober in the mer;
            But bryng us in good ale.

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Note from Wright:

This is a much better and more perfect copy of a curious drinking song which had already been printed by Ritson (Dissertation on Ancient Songs and Music, p. xxxiv) from MS. Harl. 541, fol. 214 v0., written in the reign of Henry VI. In the copy printed by Ritson the whole song runs thus:

Bryng us home good ale, sir, bryng us home good ale,
And for our der Lady love, brynge us home good ale.

Editor's Note: For the rest of this song, see: Bring Us Home Good Ale, Sir (Ritson, 1790)

In the Harl. MS. it is not accompanied with the music notes, as here; they appeared of sufficient interest to be engraved for the present volume.

Also found in Thomas Wright, Ed., Festive Songs Principally of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (London: Percy Society, 1848), p. 16, where he notes: "There is also a copy, not so complete, in Harl. MS., 541, and printed in Ritson's Ancient Songs."

Editor's Notes:

The engraving was not of this song, but of Nowell, Nowell, Nowell (which is the same tune).

The following account is from William Chappell, The Ballad Literature and Popular Music of the Olden Time (London: Chappell & Co., 1859), pp. 41-43:

"A curious collection of the songs and Christmas carols of this reign (Henry VI.) have been printed recently by the Percy Society. (Songs and Carols, No. 73.)

"The editor of the MS. (Mr. T. Wright) observes that “The great variations in the different copies of the same song, show that they were taken down from oral recitation, and had often been preserved by memory among minstrels, who were not unskilful at composing, and who were not only in the habit of, voluntarily or involuntarily, modifying the songs as they passed through their hands, and adding or omitting stanzas, but of making up new songs by stringing together phrases and lines, and even whole stanzas from the different compositions which were imprinted on their memories.” But what renders the manuscript peculiarly interesting, is, that it contains the melodies of some of the songs as well as the words. From this it appears that the same tune was used for different words. At page 62 is a note, which in modern spelling is as follows: “This is the tune for the song following; if so be that ye will have another tune, it may be at your pleasure, for I have set all the song.” The words of the carol, “Nowell, Nowell,” (Noel) are written under the notes, but the wassail song that follows, and for which the tune was also intended, is of a very opposite character, “Bryng us in good ale.” I have printed the first verse of each under the tune, but it requires to be sung more quickly for the wassail song than for the carol."

Chappell then provided the above lyrics. and then noted: "An inferior copy of this song, without music, is in Harl. M.S., No. 541, from which it has been printed in Ritson's Ancient Songs, p. xxxiv. and xxxv."

The text Chappell refers to is Bring Us Home Good Ale, Sir (Ritson, Ancient Songs and Ballads, 1790). Ritson notes that "It is of or about the time of Henry VI. and is given from MS. Harl. 541."

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