The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Wassail Chorus at the Mermaid Tavern

Words: Theodore Watts-Dunton. 1836-1914

Music: Unknown

Source: Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. 1919. The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250–1900.
Found at Wassail Chorus at the Mermaid Tavern
Accessed November 16, 2006

See generally Wassailing - Notes On The Songs

CHRISTMAS knows a merry, merry place,
  Where he goes with fondest face,
  Brightest eye, brightest hair:
Tell the Mermaid where is that one place,

'Tis by Devon's glorious halls,
  Whence, dear Ben, I come again:
Bright of golden roofs and walls—
  El Dorado's rare domain—

  Seem those halls when sunlight launches
  Shafts of gold thro' leafless branches,
Where the winter's feathery mantle blanches
       Field and farm and lane. Chorus

  'Tis where Avon's wood-sprites weave
    Through the boughs a lace of rime,
   While the bells of Christmas Eve
     Fling for Will the Stratford-chime

  O'er the river-flags emboss'd
  Rich with flowery runes of frost—
O'er the meads where snowy tufts are toss'd—
        Strains of olden time. Chorus

Shakespeare's Friend.
  'Tis, methinks, on any ground
    Where our Shakespeare's feet are set.
  There smiles Christmas, holly-crown'd
    With his blithest coronet:

  Friendship's face he loveth well:
  'Tis a countenance whose spell
Sheds a balm o'er every mead and dell
      Where we used to fret. Chorus

More than all the pictures, Ben,
  Winter weaves by wood or stream,
Christmas loves our London, when
  Rise thy clouds of wassail-steam—

  Clouds like these, that, curling, take
  Forms of faces gone, and wake
Many a lay from lips we loved, and make
      London like a dream. Chorus

Ben Jonson.
  Love's old songs shall never die,
    Yet the new shall suffer proof:
  Love's old drink of Yule brew I
    Wassail for new love's behoof.
  Drink the drink I brew, and sing
  Till the berried branches swing,
Till our song make all the Mermaid ring—
        Yea, from rush to roof.

  Christmas loves this merry, merry place;
    Christmas saith with fondest face,
      Brightest eye, brightest hair:
'Ben, the drink tastes rare of sack and mace:

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