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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 such 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, etc.

In a friendly manner this house we salute,
For it is an old custom, you need not dispute;
Ask not the reason from where it did spring,
For you know very well it's an old ancient thing.

Now here at your door we orderly stand
With our jolly wassail and our hats in our hand
We do wish you good health unto master and dame,
To children and servants we do wish the same

It has been the custom, as I've been told
By ancient housekeepers in days of old,
When young men and maidens together draw near
They fill up our bowls with cider or beer

Come fill up our wassail bowl full to the brim,
See, harnessed and garnished so neat and so trim
Sometimes with laurel and sometimes with bays
According to custom to keep the old ways

(Pause for drink)

Methinks I do smile to see the bowl full,
Which just now was empty and now filled do grow
By the hands of good people, long may they remain
And love to continue the same to maintain

Now neighbours and strangers we always do find
And hope we shall be courteous, obliging and kind;
And hope your civility to us will be proved
As a piece of small silver in token of love

(Pause for collection)

We wish you great plenty and long time to live
Because you were so willing and freely to give
To our jolly wassail most cheerful and bold,
Long may you be happy, long may you live bold

We hope your new apple trees prosper and bear,
That we shall have cider again next year;
For where you've a hogshead we hope you'll have ten,
That you will have cider when we come again

We hope all your barley will prosper and grow,
That you may have barley and beer to bestow;
For where you've a bushel we hope you'll have ten,
That you will have beer when we come again

Now for this good liquor to us you do bring,
We'll lift up our voices and merrily sing,
That all good householders may continue still
And provide some good liquor our bowl for to fill

Now for this good liquor, your cider or beer,
Now for the great kindness that we have had here,
We'll return our thanks, and shall still bear in mind
How you have been bountiful, loving and kind

Now for the great kindness that we have received
We return you our thanks and shall take our leave;
From this present time we shall bid you adieu
Until the next year when the time do ensue

Now jolly old Christmas is passing away;
According to custom this is the last day
That we shall enjoy along with you to bide
So farewell old Christmas, this merry old tide

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Source: Palmer, R (1979) Everymans's Book of English Country Songs. London, Dent

Sung by Michael Nancarow, Grampound, Cornwall; collected by Mr J.J. Mountford of Truro (Baring-Gould, Ministrelsie, no XX, p. 45).

Palmer notes:
'Wassail' derives from the Anglo-Saxon wes hal, meaning 'be whole' (cf. 'hale and hearty' in modern English) or 'be of good health. The wassailers with their drinking bowl and their joyful songs toured the households and farms at Christmastide, bringing good luck for the coming year. They still linger in a few places, especially in the West Country. This song comes from the village of Grampound in Cornwall, where it is still sung, as can be seen from Paul Jennings The Living Village, Hodder, 1968, p. 80

Roud: 209 (Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six

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