(The Wassail Song)
“Here We Come A-Caroling” is an old English wassail song, or song to wish good health, which is what “wassail” means. In days of yore, the Christmas spirit often made the rich a little more generous than usual, and bands of beggars and orphans used to dance their way through the snowy streets of England, offering to sing good cheer and to tell good fortune if the householder would give them a drink from his wassail bowl or a penny or a pork pie or, better yet, let them stand for a few minutes beside the warmth of his hearth. The wassail bowl itself was a hearty combination of hot ale or beer and spices and mead, just alcoholic enough to warm the tingling toes and fingers of the singers.
Here we come a-caroling among the leaves so green;
Here we come a-wand’ring so fair to be seen.
Love and joy come to you.
And to you glad Christmas 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 neighbors’ children whom you have seen before.
God bless the master of this house, likewise the mistress too.
And all the little children that round the table go.