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Editor’s Note: “The Gloucestershire Wassail” is a traditional English carol associated with the eve of Epiphany, when revelers drank wassail punch, a hot-mulled sherry- or brandy-based cider, sweetened with sugar and seasoned with other spices, and including yeast, apples, and toast. According to British Food History, “wassailing predates the Battle of Hastings and is thought to have its origins in Ancient Rome, where people would make sacrifices to the Pomona, the Roman Goddess of Fruits. The word Wassail originates from the Anglo-Saxon waes-hael, meaning ‘to your health’ and the word is used just as we would use Cheers! today… The hot wassail is poured into a large carved wooden bowl and it is passed around the crowd so that everyone can take a good mouthful, raise it above their head and shout ‘Wassail!’ It is because of this celebration, we “raise a toast” when having drinks.”*

The lyrics to the song vary slightly and are given below as sung in the present performance.

Wassail! wassail! all over the town,
Our toast it is white and our ale it is brown;
Our bowl it is made of the white maple tree;
With the wassail bowl, we’ll drink to thee.

And here is to Cherry and to his right cheek
Pray God send our master a good piece of beef
A good piece of beef and may we all see
With the wassail bowl, we’ll drink to thee.

And here is to Dobbin and to his right eye,
Pray God send our master a good Christmas pie,
A good Christmas pie then we may all see;
With our wassail bowl we’ll drink to thee.

And here is to Broad May and to his broad horn
May God send our master a good crop of corn
And a good crop of corn that may we all see
With the wassail bowl, we’ll drink to thee.

And here is to Fillpail and to her soft ear
Pray God send our master a happy New Year
A happy New Year and may we all see
With the wassail bowl, we’ll drink to thee.

And here’s to Colly, and to her long tail,
God send our master us never may fail
A cask of strong beer: I pray you draw near,
And it’s our jolly wassail you shall hear.

Butler, come fill us a bowl of the best
And we hope that your soul in heaven may rest
But if you do draw us a bowl of the small
Then down shall go butler, bowl and all.

Then here’s to the maid in the lily white smock
Who tripped to the door and pulled back the lock
Who tripped to the door and pulled back the pin
For to let these jolly wassailers in.

*See the website of British Food History. The Imaginative Conservative applies the principle of appreciation to the discussion of culture and politics—we approach dialogue with magnanimity rather than with mere civility. Will you help us remain a refreshing oasis in the increasingly contentious arena of modern discourse? Please consider donating now.

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