Here We Come A-wassailing
This is a Christmas and New Year's Carol from around 1850. Not all of the verses below are always sung and the order is often changed.
Wassailers are carolers who go from door to door carrying a wassail-bowl and singing carols. The wassail-bowl is typically filled with wassail, a spiced ale. The bowl is usually silver and is decorated with ribbons and garlands. The wassailers expect the good people in the house to keep their wassail-bowls full!
Here We Come A-wassailing
1. Here we come a-wassailing
Among the leaves so green;
Here we come a-wand'ring
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.
2. Our wassail cup is made
Of the rosemary tree,
And so is your beer
Of the best barley.
3. We are not daily beggars
That beg from door to door;
But we are neighbours' children,
Whom you have seen before.
4. Call up the butler of this house,
Put on his golden ring.
Let him bring us up a glass of beer,
And better we shall sing.
5. We have got a little purse
Of stretching leather skin;
We want a little of your money
To line it well within.
6. Bring us out a table
And spread it with a cloth;
Bring us out a mouldy cheese,
And some of your Christmas loaf.
7. God bless the master of this house
Likewise the mistress too,
And all the little children
That round the table go.
8. Good master and good mistress,
While you're sitting by the fire,
Pray think of us poor children
Who are wandering in the mire.
"Wassail!"¯ is a toast, literally meaning "be in good health"¯. The reply to this is traditionally "Drink-hail!"¯
Here's a recipe for Wassail from "The Atlas, Volume 1" (1828)...
"For the wassail-bowl, which, as it has only been resorted to in the metropolis for the last few years, is still a mystery in the manufacture to some, take the following receipt from a good hand. It implies a good handsome bowl, and a reasonable number of people, not professed wine drinkers -say from twelve persons to sixteen. Those who prefer wine can have it alone: - 'Imprimis, direct a small quantity of spices to be simmered gently in a teacupful of water for fifteen or twenty minutes; to wit, cardamoms, clove, nutmeg, mace, ginger, cinnamon, and coriander. Put the spices, when done, to four bottles of white wine, not sweet, and a pound and a half of loaf sugar; and set them on the fire, altogether, in a large saucepan. Meanwhile let the bowl have been prepared, and the yolks of twelve and the whites six eggs well beaten up in it.- Then, when the spiced and sugared wine is a little warm, take a tea-cupful of it and mix it in the bowl with the eggs; when a little warmer another teacupful; and so on for three or four: after which, when it boils, add the whole of the remainder, pouring it in gradually, and stirring it briskly all the time so as to froth it. The moment it froths toss in a dozen well-roasted apples, and send it up as hot as it can be."
Note that there are other recipes that use red wine.
Verse Order: 1, Chorus, 3, 8, 5
MP3: Claire Goget, Sarah Marshall, Ashley Hunter and Jeremy B.
Verse Order: 1, Chorus, 7
MP3: U.S. Army Band
Thanks and Acknowledgements
Image: The Wassail Bowl, John Gilbert, 1860.