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Wiltshire Community History

Folk Song Information

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Book TitleAuthorDateNotes
Song TitleWassailing song
Roud No.209
Collected FromCouzens, John
LocationLangley Burrell
Collected ByKilvert, Francis
Alternative TitleWassail song
Source Primary
Source SecondaryKilvert, Francis: Kilvert's diary Jonathon Cape 1938 p 315, 316
Song Lyrics
Verse 1

We'll sail and we'll sail all over the town
Our toast it is white and our beer it is brown,
Our bowl it is made of the maples tree
So here my bold fellows I'll drink to thee.

Verse 2

He that do fill our bowl with the best
I hope in heaven hi soul will rest,
And he that do fill our bowl with the small
Down fall butter, bowl and all.

Verse 3

Master and missus if you are 'ithin
Pray send us out some of your merry, merry men
That we may drink our wassailing bowl before out heads do wake
And our jolly wassail,
Hey and joy come unto our jolly wassail.

Verse 4

Master and missus a-sitting by the fire
Come pity we poor ploughboys that travel in the mire,
That we may drink our wassailing bowl before out heads do wake
And our jolly wassail,
Hey and joy come unto our jolly wassail.

Verse 5

Master and missus if you are awake
Pray send out some of your pies or your cakes,
That we may drink our wassailing bowl before out heads do wake
And our jolly wassail,
Hey and joy come unto our jolly wassail.

Verse 6

If there are any young maids within as I should suppose there should be some
They'd never let such stout young men stand here at the door all on the cold stones,

Verse 7

They'd troll to the door and slip back a pin,
"Come sail you merry Wassailers in,"
Let's sail us all in and see how you do,
We be merry boys all and thank you too.

Verse 7

So here's to Spark and to his long horn,
Pray send your master a good crop of corn,
Of corn and hay that ever you see,
With my wassailing bowl I'll drink to thee.

Verse 8

So here's to Whitefoot and to his long ear,
Pray God send your master a merry New Year,
As merry New Year as ever you see,
With my wassailing bowl I'll drink to thee.
Print Song Lyrics
Note 1

My thanks to Sheila Jones, Ceredigion who is researching Francis Kilvert, for pointing me to the two songs collected by Kilvert in Wiltshire.

Note 2

Kilvert, Francis: Kilvert's Diary, Vol. 2 303, 304: Thursday New Year's Morrow [2nd January 1873]

This evening I went down to Bath to stay with Thersie at 13 Raby Place till Saturday. A stormy morning and one is all the more glad that the wedding morning yesterday was so gloriously lovely. John Cozens carried my carpet bag to the station and entertained me on the way with reminiscences of the time when he was chief singer in Langley Burrell and the head of the Wassailers. When the old Wassailing Set broke up John took possession of the ancient Wassailing Bowl which he uses now to feed his fowls with. He promised it to me and he also promised to dictate to me some day from memory the old Langley Burrell Wassailing Song which they used to sing and also their Langley Christmas Carol.

John said in regard to that he thought this Christmas Carol was as good asany of the hymns sung in Church if it were sung in any form. But it depended on the form it was sung in.

The Langley Burrell Wassailers he said were famous for being the best in all the country round. No one could beat them or against them. They used to go to both the Langleys, both the Tythertons, Draycot, Chippenham etc. John says the singing in Langley Burrell Church was never very good. It was a sort of humbling job.

Kilvert, Francis: Kilvert's Diary, Vol. 2 p 311 - 314: Thursday 23 January [1873]

This morning I found John Cozens at work on the lawn covering one of the old flower beds, the one near the Deodar, between it and the limes. He fulfilled his promise of reciting to me the old Christmas Carol which the Wassailers and he as chief singer used to sing with the Wassailing song at Christmas. John leaned on his spade and I took the carol down word for word from his mouth.

Kilvert, Francis: Kilvert's Diary, Vol. 2 p 314: Friday 24th January [1873]

This morning John Cozens brought me down the old Wassailing Bowl he had promised me. It fell to his lot as the chief singer when the old "set" of Wassailers at Langley Burrell was broken up.

There was a more ancient bowl, perhaps a mapless [= maple] bowl which was broken up when a still older set of Wassailers was broken up. These old Wassailers were very drunken and kept all the money they got to themselves and spent it in drink. So some of the young Langley men and John Cozens amongst them subscribed sixpence a piece, got old [ ] of Tytherton to make them a bowl [the bowl which I have now] and set up an opposition party of Wassailers. The old set broke up and the young ones had it all their own way. Sometimes one of the old set had to be left behind drunk in a ditch.

The present bowl is made, John says, of elm. It is about 50 years old and is very much worm eaten. The iron bands which arched over the top dressed with evergreens and ribbons are now gone.

I found John at work upon the flower beds again this morning and in a cold shower of rain I wrote down from his mouth the following:

Wassailing song [see above]

Kilvert, Francis: Kilvert's Diary, Vol. 2 p 398: Thursday 18th December 1874

Mrs. Lawrence met me on the Common and poured out all the Home Farm troubles. Susan Martin told me of the robbery of wine that has been going on during three years at Langley House. Since April 1 last 4 dozen of wine and brandy have been taken out of the cellar with a false key by an inmate of the house. Money has been stolen also, besides a diamond and a gold medal in a case, and no one knows how much more. This evening some boys came wassailing from Chippenham, and sang the old wassail song, Old Jeff and Nellie Ray.

Transcribed and edited by Chris Wildridge, 2011.



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