The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Wassail, Wassail, Out of the Milk Pail

For Twelfth Night

Words: John Bale, About 1548
Rickert notes: "King John"

Music: Unknown

Source: Edith Rickert, Ancient English Christmas Carols: 1400-1700 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1914), p. 243.

Wassail, wassail, out of the milk pail,
Wassail, wassail as white as my nail,
Wassail, wassail, in snow, frost and hail,
Wassail, wassail, with partridge and rail,
Wassail, wassail, that much doth avail,
Wassail, wassail, that never will fail.


Also found with the title "Wassayle, Wassayle, Out Of The Milke Payle" in Thomas Wright, ed., Festive Songs Principally of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. (London: Percy Society, 1848), pp. 19-20, who noted:

The following is one of the oldest Wassail Songs, and is sung by Dissimulation, personating Simon of Swynett, in Kynge Johan, by Bale, about 1550, when offering the poisoned cup. After he has given the cup, he says:--

    "The dayes of your lyfe never felt ye suche a cuppe,
    So good and so holsome, if ye would drynke it upp:
    It passeth Malmesaye, Capryck, Tyre, or Ypocras;
    By my fayth I thynke a better drynke never was."
(Camden Society's edn., pp. 80-1.).

Wright gives us the older style of the lyric:

Wassayle, wassayle, out of the milke payle,
Wassayle, wassayle as whyte as my nayle,
Wassayle, wassayle in snowe, froste, and hayle,
Wassayle, wassayle with partriche and rayle,
Wassayle, wassayle that muche doth avayle,
Wassayle, wassayle that never wyll fayle.

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