Other songs: Nov 29 30 Dec 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25

December 9

"The Wassail Song" is also known as "Here We Come A-Wassailing" and "Here We Come A-Caroling," and is one of the best known wassail songs. The wassailing tradition usually involves going door to door, singing and drinking the health of those you are visiting. This tradition pre-dates Christmas; it goes back to fertility rites to drive evil spirits out of orchards during mid-winter by singing and shouting loudly. Cider was also often poured on trees to encourage fertility. The history of wassailing is worth reading about; you can find more information in the links below.

This piece is performed by Andy Chase on banjo. He mixed two takes together, which gives it a nice sound. Andy is the older brother of Sue Hahs, one of our other Hark! contributors.

Downloads: mp3

The Wassail Song

Performed by Andy Chase on banjo

Words and music: English traditional

Here we come a wassailing
Among the leaves so green,
Here we come a wandering
So fair to be seen:

Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail too,
And God bless you and send you a happy New Year.
And God send you a happy New Year.

Our wassail cup is made
Of the rosemary tree,
And so is your beer
Of the best barley:


We are not daily beggars
That beg from door to door,
But we are neighbours' children
Whom you have seen before:


Call up the butler of this house,
Put on his golden ring;
Let him bring us a glass of beer,
And the better we shall sing:


We have a little purse
Of stretching leather skin;
We want a little of your money
To line it well within:


Bring us out a table,
And spread it with a cloth;
Bring us out a mouldy cheese,
And some of your Christmas loaf:


God bless the master of this house,
Likewise the mistress too;
And all the little children
That round the table go.


Good master and good mistress,
While you're sitting by the fire,
Pray think of us poor children
Who are wand'ring in the mire.


Sources and more information