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For further notes, dots, musicology, enquiries, complaints & sources - please contact: Jon McNamara or David Albinson by mailing : mailto:suggers(at)

These are the wassails we use. Folk purists will note that

i)  few if any are the strict collected versions of "proper" wassails. Worse, some are blatant cut & shut adaptations, where we have hot-wired and driven away two trad. songs, welded the front of one to the back of another, and are joy-riding around in the resultant mess. This often has to do with workability - see notes / webmasters excuses at the foot of the page.

ii) quite a number are modern songs - we have tried to give the proper attributions; please feel free to mail us if there are any blatant mistakes!

Stortfolk .... .... Beefordbury Bugle Homepage


These are the songs used by the Beerfordbury wassail since time immoral (i.e. the date of issue of the Kippers classic) or 1018 (which as everyone knows is nearly elevensies in Beerfordbury).

Some are trad. arr. Mac or Dave - some are amalgamations of two or three traditional wassails. Others are trad. pub songs or adopted from modern sources - e.g. Bring Us A Barrel by the late and sorely missed Keith Marsden 

Note for singers - there are no dots. (a) If in doubt, sing in E Nigel. Or Shout. (b) ALWAYS HARMONISE. Anyone caught singing the actual tune will be rusticated. (c) Always follow Geoff if he pitches. Whatever he pitches. Trusses are available on free loan from the Stores Officer. {Dave's been in the National Truss for a long while. That's how he manages to reach those notes.}





The Mummers Song



One, Two, Three Jolly Lads



While Shepherds



Jolly Wassail



Here we Come A’Wassailing



The Stort Valley Wassail



Bring Us a Barrel



Landlord Fill the Flowing Bowl



The Nancarrow Wassail



The Turning of the Year



The Holly & the Ivy



The King



Sans Day Carol



The Boars Head Carol



Ad hoc Wassails from members & friends: .... and apologies to the first five, who entered last Christmas's contest & got no result. This WILL be rectified
One Two three Smelly Lads One of Mac's
The Norah Handscombe Collection Kindly loaned by the kindly Norah
Emma's Utterance As uttered by Emma
Carys' Carol A carol from Carys
From John H Scott (MOOC(temp)) of California - an inspired verse or two from a kindred spirit who just surfed on in ......


The roads are very dirty

My boots are very clean

I have a little pocket to put my money in

Knock on the knocker,

Ring on the bell

Please give me a copper

Because I've sung so well !

If you haven't got a penny

A halfpenny will do

If you haven't got a halfpenny

Then God bless you!

Sung on being Called In. It is traditional (but not designed) that the front of the Wassail is about half a line ahead of the Tail End Wassailers by the finish, on account of being started before entry to the premises.

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Here are one, two, three jolly lads, all in one mind

We have come a'wassailing and we hope you'll prove kind

We hope you'll prove kind with your cakes and strong beer

For we'll come no more nigh you until the next year


The first to come in is Lord Nelson you'll see

With a bunch of blue ribbons tied under his knee

And a star on his breast that like silver does shine

I hope he remembers it's wassailing time.


And the next to come in it is Lord Collinwood

And he's fought with Lord Nelson 'till he's shed his blood

And he's come from the sea old England to view

And he's come a'wassailing with all of his crew.


The last to come is old Toss pot you'll see

He's a valiant old fellow in every degree

He's a valiant old man and he wears a pig tail

And his only delight is a'drinking strong ale.


Repeat first verse


Come Ladies and Gentlemen sat by the fire

Put your hands in your pockets and give us our desire

Put you hands in your pockets and give us our delight

If you'll give nowt, we'll take nowt.....

farewell and good night !

An Easter begging song (trad). Also used as a calling on song in the St George Mummers Play, which makes it very confusing. (Wassegging , Pacealeing etc.. )

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Sung to the tune normally associated with On Ilkley Moor B'aht 'at. Which is more correct than the one most people use nowadays.

While Shepherds watch'd their flocks by night

All seated on the ground

The Angel of the Lord came down

[The Angel of the Lord came down]

And Glory shone around

[And Glory shone around]


"Fear not" said he; for mighty dread

Had seized their troubled mind;

"Glad tidings of great joy I bring

To you and all mankind".


"To you in David's town this day

Is born of David's Line

A Saviour, who is Christ the Lord;

And this shall be the sign."


"All glory be to God on high

And to the Earth be peace;

Good will henceforth from heaven to men

Begin and never cease.

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A Wassail. a wassail throughout this old town

Our cup it is white and our ale it is brown

Our Wassail is made of the good ale and true

Some nutmeg and ginger - the best we could brew.


[ And its ... ] Our Wassail, Jolly Wassail

Joy come to our Jolly Wassail.


Our Wassail was made with and Elderberry bough

And so my good neighbour we'll drink unto thee

Beside all on earth you'll have apples in store

Pray let us come in for it's cold by the door.


We hope that your apple trees prosper and bear

So we may have cider when we call next year

And where you've one barrel, we hope you'll have ten

So we can have cider when we call again.


Here's we Jolly Wassailers weary and cold

Pray drop us some silver into our old bowl

And if we're alive for another new year

Perhaps we may call and see who do live here.

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Here we come a'wassailing among the leaves so green

Here we come a'wandering so fair to be seen



For it is a Christmas time

and we wander far and near

And we wish you merry Christmas

and Happy New Year

And a year .... and a year ...

And we wish you merry Christmas

and Happy New Year


We are not daily beggars that beg from door to door

But we are neighbours children whom you have seen before.


Call up the Butler of this house - put on his golden ring

Let him bring us a glass beer and better we shall sing.


We have got a little purse of stretching leather skin

We want a little money to line it well within.


God bless the Master of this house,

likewise the Mistress too

And all the little children that round the table go.

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(To the tune of "CWM RHONDDA")


We have come here, dressed in tatters

We won’t sing long – never fear!

But we’ll wish you, now it matters,

Happy Christmas, good new year.



Happy Christmas, Happy Christmas

And a prosperous New Year

(Good New Year)

And a prosperous New Year!


At midwinter, it is folly

To forget the trees on Earth

Ivy, Mistletoe and Holly

Celebrate the Son’s rebirth.


Let the Mistress or the Master

Of this house of Joy and Cheer

Help us sing a little faster

Bring us all a glass of beer!


You may think that we look funny,

Or we sing from selfish greed

But please fill our hats with money

It all goes to folks in need!

( Michael Branwell 1996)

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No man that's a drinker takes ale from a pin

For there is too little good stuff there within

Four and a half is it's measure in full

Too small for a sup, not enough for a pull...


Then bring us a barrel and set it up right

Bring us a barrel, to last out the night

Bring us a barrel, no matter how high

We'll drink it up Lads, we'll drink it dry.


The poor little firkin's nine gallons in all

Though the beer it is good, the size is too small

For lads that are drinkers like you and like I

That firkin small barrel too quickly runs dry.


And when that I'm dying and on me death bed

By me bedside leave a fine full hogshead

That if down below I mun go when I die

Me and old Nick we will both drink it dry.


*The Kilderkin’s Next and although rather small

At least it is better than nothing at all

Its eighteen full gallons will just about do

Provided, of course, there’s another for you.


Then bring forth the Puncheon and roll out the butt

Them's the best measures before me to put

Our pots will go round and good ale it will flow

And we'll be contented for an hour or so.

From the singing of the late Keith Marsden : Fellside Recordings 1992 See "Picking Sooty Blackberries" p. 22 - (pub. by Fellside Recordings - ISBN 1 871318 01 7.... ) *with an extra verse from the singing of that nice Mr Shuttleworth (who says he sang it in front of Keith and didn't get hit, so he concludes it was sort of approved).


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Landlord fill the flowing bowl

until it doth run over [x2]

For tonight we'll merry merry be [x3]

Tomorrow we'll be sober !


Here's to the man who drinks light ale

and goes to bed quite sober

He fades as the leaves do fade ...

And drops off in October.

Here's to the girl who steals a kiss

and runs to tell her mother

She's a very foolish thing ....

She'll never get another Chorus:


Here's to the man who drinks brown ale

and goes to bed quite mellow

He lives as he ought to live ...

And dies a jolly good fellow

Here's to the girl who steals a kiss

and comes back for another

She's a boon to all mankind ...

She'll very soon be a mother !! Chorus

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Now here in this house we first must begin

To raise up our glasses to drink to the King

And as to the Master, we'll drink your good health

We hope you will prosper in virtue and wealth ...

In virtue and wealth

With our Wassail, Wassail, Wassail

And joy come to our Jolly Wassail

Wassail, wassail, wassail,wassail

And joy come to our jolly wassail.


Now neighbours and strangers that here we have found

Give a coin or two as the hat it pass round

For the gift that you give is not taken in greed

But will ease and comfort poor people in need

Poor people in need ....


Now for this good coin, the cider, the beer

And for the warm welcome that we have found here

We give you our thanks and we will keep in mind

How you have been generous, friendly and kind

And friendly and kind...


And so for the kindness that we did receive

We return you our thanks as we now take our leave

From this present evening we bid you adieu!

Until the next year and same season ensue ...

And same season ensue.


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THE TURNING OF THE YEAR - based on a song by Jon Harvison


So raise .... your glasses high

And loud your praises sing

To the turning of the year

And the season of the King


Now the winters on the land

And the frost is cold and hard

There is fire upon your breath

And ice upon the yard

The bitter wind will glow your cheek

As to the Inn - your friends to greet .... Chorus ....


It's the season of hard frost

When the trees stand bare and cold

As the snow it shrouds the fields

Sheep huddle in the fold

For Christmas time is coming near

A time for friends and kindly cheer .... Chorus ...


Now the winter nights are dark

And are with memory strong

When the Wassailers they come in

To cheer with merry song

They'll sing with joy of the time now come

And they'll sing the "King" to bless your home ... Chorus ...


Build the fire into a blaze

And make the rafters ring

Turn no-one from your door

'tis the season now to sing ...

Come raise your glasses, drink a toast

To the company & to our host ... Chorus ....

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The holly and the ivy when they are both full grown

Of all the trees that are in the wood,

the holly bears the crown


The rising of the sun, And the running of the deer

The playing of the merry organ,

sweet singing in the choir.


The Holly bears a blossom as WHITE as the lily flower

And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ

to be our sweet Saviour ...


The Holly bears a berry as RED as any blood

And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ

to do poor sinners good


The Holly bears a PRICKLE, AS SHARP as any thorn

And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ

on Christmas day in the morn


The Holly bears a *BARK, AS BITTER as any gall,

And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ for to redeem us all.

*At this juncture, it has become the prctice to utter a sharp yap, yelp or woof.

The holly and the ivy when they are both full grown

Of all the trees that are in the wood,

the holly bears the crown

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Joy, health, love and peace

be all here in this place

By your leave we will sing

concerning our king.


Our King is well dressed in silks of the best

In ribbons so rare-no king can compare

We have travelled many miles

over hedges and stiles

In search of our King

unto you we bring


We have powder and shot

to conquer the lot

We have cannon and ball

to conquer them all


Now Christmas is passed,

Twelfth Night is the last

And we bid you adieu,

great joy to the new.

From the singing of Fairport Span, and an old book. Has become the BBTWTA anthem over the years - sung in Yordas Cave, at an Australian Aboriginal tourist site and all places in between.


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Now the Holly bears a berry

as WHITE as the milk

And Mary she bore Jesus

who was wrapped up in silk.

And Mary she bore Jesus Christ

our Saviour for to be

And the first tree in the green wood

It was the Holly - Holly - Holly

And the first tree in the green wood

it was the Holly.


Now the Holly bears a berry

as GREEN as the grass

And Mary bore Jesus who died on the cross


Now the Holly bears a berry as blood it is RED

And we trust in our Saviour

who rose from dead

Now the Holly bears a berry a

as BLACK as the coal

And Mary bore Jesus who died for us all

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Sung only in the prescence of Oxford Men, and then with care as it makes them maudlin and whistful.

The boars head in hand bear I

Bedecked with bay and rosemary

So I prey you my masters be merry

Quod Estis in convivio


Caput apri defero

Reddens laudes Domino


The Boars head as I understand

Is the rarest dish in all the land

Which thus bedecked with a gay garland

Let us servire cantico.


Caput …


Our steward has't provided this

In honour of the King of Bliss

Which on this day to be served is

In Reginensis atrio.


Caput … x2



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( from a Mr McNamara of Beerfordbury )

One, Two Three Smelly Lads ...
Here's one, two, three smelly lads - all in a heap
If they stand near the fire they will smell of dead sheep
They will smell of dead sheep as they sing out the King
And demand good beer from you - if you wear a gold ring!

Now the first to sing flat is old Mac on the bass
As he drops his song book and loses his place
His wild bleating notes will cause panic and fear
and wild apprehension until well into New Year ...

Now next to the fray is our Dave with his pipe
And at singing a harmony he'll have a wild swipe
He'll warble it here - he'll warble it there
High, low and sideways - he just doesn't care ....

And the last in the crew is young Geoff on the box
A squeezy piano with a fart like an ox
He'll run up the buttons and slide down the keys
And rupture his buttocks when the dust makes him sneeze ...

So Ladies and Gentlemen - quaking in fear
Pull out your purses and fill us with beer
Fill us with beer - until we feel no pain
And do it right now - else we'll sing again ...

Here's one, two, three smelly lads - all in a heap
If they stand near the fire they will smell of dead sheep
They will smell of dead sheep as they murder a song
You will smell them for weeks - even after they've gone
Jon McNamara 1999

from Norah Handscombe, MHP (Mus)

a) Tune - we Three Kings .

Wassail, wassail, all through the towns .. ..
wearing hats and very strange gowns
singing rowdily
walking proudily .. .. .. ..
rattling tins for crowns .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .

(Chorus) .. .. .. Oh.... Christmas comes but once a year .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..  When it comes we'll give a cheer .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .Altogether, whatever the weather .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .sing and drink an-other beer'

'tis the season of goodwill
so think of folk who're sad or ill
Don't be greedy, help the needy
then you can drink your fill.

(chorus) Norah Handscombe 1999

b) Tune - God rest you merry

God rest you merry, Gentlemen -
Likewise the ladies too
Although we are a tattered ten
We'll sing a song to you
And if you put some pennies in
Our tin, we'll sing again
Or we'll go on our way through wind & rain
Wind & rain
We will go on our way & sing again




Norah Handscombe 1999

The Twelve Days Of Christmas
By Emma Whisker (aged 13&1/12)(at the time)

It's the first day of Christmas, and can you get for me
A talking Christmas Tree?
It's the second day of Christmas, and can you get for me

Two Lap Tops
And A talking Christmas Tree? ..... etc up to

It's the twelfth day of Christmas and can you get for me
12 Colour TV's
11 VCR's
10 C D Roms
9 Electric Keyboards
8 Personal Pagers
7 Filofaxes
6 C D Players
5 Mobile Phones
4 Ferraris
3 Internet
2 Laptops
And a Talking Christmas Tree
Emma Whisker 1999

The American Wassail
(To be sung to the tune of Beethoven's Ode to Joy)

Wassail, wassail! Come we singing,
Beerfordbury's happy band,
Seeking for our missing village
In each pub across the land.
Alms, we beg thee, for the needy;
For ourselves we seek but beer!
Landlord, fill each glass a-brimming,
While we sing of Christmas cheer.

Wassail, wassail! Landlord, stint not;
Fill each firkin with the best.
Patrons, fill our purses also;
By the poor you will be blest.
Then our wandering shall continue,
Cecil leading on before,
'Til in Beerfordbury Village
Sing we wassail evermore.

2000 John H Scott of Los Angeles

 Copyright Notice All rights to anything anyone else hasn't got rights to are very strictly reserved by the BBTWTA or at least would be if the BBTWTA actually existed as any sort of legal entity,( which it doesn't) so this paragraph is as big a load of old bollox as the small print on most stuff issued by big software corporations. For guidance & suggestions on how to wassail yourself (or go out and wassail other folks, which is more fun) ~ either mail us, or better still just go & do it.

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Webmasters Excuses:

I have tried to give appropriate credits, but please mailto:suggers(at) if you want to point out glaring inaccuracies, or indeed castigate us for our laxity in not adhering to the True Folk Tradition. My defence is that

i) If you are going to dress up silly, and then go into pubs full of non-folkies and get them to give you money, you have to sing something that's catchy, brash and loud enough to be heard over the fruit* machine. People do not stop talking - unless you hit them with a wall of noise when they sometimes do, if it sounds interesting. They certainly do not tend to have the attention-span necessary for all 75 verses of The Sailor's Doom at Yuletide (Dorian Mode) (Proclaimed deliberately in a Goaty Voice)

ii) Singing in Pubs has a long history  and ought to be encouraged, not made into a museum exhibit. (Discuss)

iii) It's hard to be accurate when you're that drunk.

(*poker-machine for the benefit of our Colonial Friends)

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