The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Somerset Wassail

Words and Music: Traditional English

MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF / XML


Version 2
Compare Somerset Wassail - Version 1


Source: Sabine Baring Gould and H. Fleetwood Sheppard, A Garland of Country Songs (London: Methuen & Co., 1895), #20, pp. 44-45.

1. Wassail! wassail! all around the town,
For the cup is white and the ale is brown.

For it's our wassail, and 'tis your wassail,
And 'tis joy come to our jolly wassail!

2. The cup is made of ashen tree,
And the ale is made of the best barley, Refrain

3. The great dog of Langport burnt his tail
The night that we went singing wassail. Refrain

4. O maid, fair maid in holland smock,
Come ope the door and turn the lock, Refrain

5. O maid, fair maid, with golden tag,
Come ope the door and show a pretty leg. Refrain

6. O master, mistress, that sit by the fire,
Consider us poor travellers all in the mire. Refrain

7. Put out the ale and raw milk cheese,
And then you shall see happy we be's. Refrain

Notes from Baring Gould and Sheppard:

"The wassail sung at Christmas and New Year's Eve at Langport, in Somersetshire; it was kindly taken down for me there by Mr. C. L. Eastlake. Hone, in his "Every Day Book," gives a Gloucestershire Wassail, the words of which are very similar. A Cornish Wassail is in 13 stanzas, as taken down from an old man, Michael Nancarow, at Grampound, by Mr. J. J. Mountford, of Truro, runs thus:


Wassail, wassail, wassail, wassail!
    And joy come to our jolly wassail.
Now here at this house we first will be seen,
    To drink the King's health with a custom has been,
Now unto the master we'll drink his good health,
    We hope he may prosper in virtue and wealth,
With our wassail, wassail, wassail, wassail and joy!
    wassail and joy, To our jolly wassail.

[MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF / XML]

[See: Cornish Wassail - Version 3a]

"For much detail relative to the Wassail cup, I must refer the reader to Brand [Wassail] and to Hone [January 5 Eve of Epiphany and Lamb's-wool], and to Chambers' "Book of Days," in which last is given a receipt for the brew of the contents.

"The words of this song probably belong, as Hone says, to Gloucestershire; there occurs in them an expression peculiar, I believe, to the Cotswold country. Chappell gives it as a Gloucestershire Wassail with an air quite distinct from and far less spirited than that printed above. I have no doubt but that it is a genuine Somersetshire tune, and a good one, and specimen of the best class of folk songs. H. F. S."

See, generally: Wassailing! - Notes On The Songs And Traditions.

Sheet Music from Baring Gould and Sheppard:

Editor's Note:  In the original, the third and fifth verses were preceded by an asterisk. There was no explanation for this in the text. Compare:

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