Gloucestershire wassail

Wassail, wassail all over the town

Music: Trad. arr. Paul Ayres. Words: Trad. English
performance time approx 2m 15s
Range S: c' – f'' / A: c' – c'' / T: f – g'; / B: F – c'
Price code: D
Complexity: **

See a perusal copy of the music.
Download a synthesized realisation
A great concert opener or closer, this wassailing carol comes from Gloucestershire in the west of England. The custom of wassailing, or going from door to door in the holiday season, singing and asking for food and drink, has ancient roots. The word “wassail” comes from Old English “wes hal”, or “good health” (lit. “be well”) and the wassail cup or bowl, often decorated with ribbons, was a receptacle for sharing whatever drink the home-owner cared to give the singers.

Paul Ayres' engaging arrangement features constant motion in the accompaniment and a turn for everyone at singing the words. Written in 9/8 rather than in the 6/8 which is usual for this song, the phrases take on a lurching (and quite possibly drunken!) quality. Enjoy!

See also Paul's Yorkshire Wassail song and Peter Hill's arrangement of the French luck visit song Guillaneus.


Wassail, wassail all over the town,
Our toast it is white and our ale it is brown,
Our bowl it is made of the white maple tree,
With the wassailing bowl we’ll drink to thee!

And here is to Cherry and to his right cheek,
Pray God send our master a good piece of beef,
A good piece of beef that we may all see,
With the wassailing bowl we’ll drink to thee!

And here is to Dobbin and to his right eye,
Pray God send our master a good Christmas pie,
A good Christmas pie that we may all see,
With the wassailing bowl we’ll drink to thee!

Come butler, come fill us a bowl of the best,
We hope that your soul in heaven may rest,
But if you do draw us a bowl of the small,
Then down will go butler, bowl and all!

Then here’s to the maid in the lily-white smock
Who tripped to the door and pulled back the lock,
Who tripped to the door and pulled back the pin
For to let these jolly wassailers in.


Cherry and Dobbin — horses (some sources of the carol left the names blank, to be filled in as appropriate)

Christmas pie — game pie

The small — small beer, a weak beer generally reserved for women and children

Purchase – 4080: Gloucestershire wassail

Before you click the "buy" button, please enter the name of your group and select the appropriate size.
Name of group
Size of group
The price depends on the number of singers in your group. This is a single payment for a licence to make as many copies as you need for your group to rehearse and perform the song. You can also re-print - for instance, to replace copies that get lost or worn out.

Copies must not be given, lent, hired or sold to any other group.

Orders are normally despatched within 24 hours - not instantly, because each PDF file is created specially for the purchaser.

Canasg sales are processed via Paypal. Paypal lets you pay with a simple credit or debit card if you don’t have a Paypal account. Your Paypal transaction will be in sterling and it will be converted automatically if your credit card draws on a different currency. Paypal passes none of your secure information to Canasg.

If you would like us to send an invoice before you pay, or if you would like your order priced in $US or Euros, then please e-mail your order to us instead of using the form above.
Canasg Choral Music Publishing
Canasg Music
16 Morningside Park,
Edinburgh EH10 5HB, Scotland
Contact us