Yorkshire wassail

Here we come a-wassailing among the leaves so green

Music: Trad. arr. Paul Ayres. Words: Trad. English
performance time approx 3m 00s
Range S: d' – d'' / A: a – b' / T: f# – f#'; / B: F# – d'
Price code: C
Complexity: **

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This well known wassailing carol comes from Yorkshire in the north 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' arrangement gives the verses to the treble voices, starting in unison and building up to three part canonic harmony by verse 5. A refrain that is repeated regularly, apart from at the very end, makes this an easy piece to learn.

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


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 your wassail too,
And God bless you, and send you a happy New Year,
And God send you a happy New Year.

We are not daily beggars that beg from door to door,
But we are neighbours’ children whom you have seen before.

We have got 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 some 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 a-wandr’ing in the mire.


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