Gower Wassail

I originally recorded this as a Christmas greeting Facebook post for my friend Jim Tourtelot. But since it is Christmas day I thought I would put it in the collection and share with everyone. I think most of us know about the tradition of wassailing. This particular wassail song from Wales was collected by A.L. Lloyd and appeared in his 'Folk Song in England' in 1967.

All the silly banter about wishing the neighbor a great apple crop so 'we can have cider when we come next year' actually echoes back to the most ancient form of the tradition that involved the blessing of trees and bees to ensure a healthy crop for the coming year. So here's to the trees, and the bees and to thee my good neighbor.


A-wassail, a-wassail throughout all the town,
Our cup it is white and our ale it is brown.
Our wassail is made of the good ale and cake,
Some nutmeg and ginger, the best we could bake.

Fol-dee-dol, dol-dee-dol,
Dol-dee-dol, dol-dee-del,
Fol-dee-derol, lol-dee-der-dee,
Sing too-ra-li-doh.

Our wassail is made of the elderberry bough,
And so my good neighbours, we'll drink unto thou,
Besides all on earth, you have apples in store,
Pray, let us come in for it's cold by the door.

Fol-dee . . .

We hope that your apple trees prosper and bear
So that we may have cider when we call next year.
And where you have one barrel we hope you'll have ten
So that we may have cider when we call again.

Fol-dee . . .

There's a master and a mistress sitting down by the fire
While we poor wassail boys stand here in the mire.
Come you pretty maid with your silver-headed pin,
Pray, open the door and let us come in.

Fol-dee . . .

It's we poor wassail boys so weary and cold,
Please drop some small silver into our bowl,
And if we survive for another New Year,
Perhaps we may call and see who does live here.

Fol-dee . . .

We know by the moon that we are not too soon,
And we know by the sky that we are not too high,
And we know by the stars that we are not too far,
And we know by the ground that we are within sound.