Oxford Ramble

Speed the Plough



A Taste of Ale

Six for Gold

Knock at the Knocker, Ring at the Bell

The Robber Bird

Three Quarter Time

The 25th



Printed Source

The Oxford Book of Carols

Gloucestershire Wassail

Wassail track 1

I was never entirely sure where our words came from - they're not the same as the set printed in The Oxford Book of Carols, which has couplets such as these:

Here's to our horse, and to his right ear / God send our master a happy new year

So here is to Cherry and to his right cheek / Pray God send our master a good piece of beef

Here's to our mare, and to her right eye / God send our mistress a good Christmas pie

So here is to Broad Mary and to her broad horn / May God send our master a good crop of corn

Our tune, however, is the same, which the Oxford Book of Carols merely notes was collected by Vaughan Williams "from an old person in Gloucestershire".

Actually, it turns out that Vaughan Williams noted down the song in the inn at Pembridge in Herefordshire, in July or August 1909, from a singer whose name he did not record, but who presumably was a native of Gloucestershire.

The song became well known as a result of being included in the Oxford Book of Carols, first published in 1928, and it was at this point that it was given the title of ‘Gloucestershire Wassail’, to distinguish it from the ‘Somerset Wassail’ and the North Country ‘Wassail Song’ (‘Here we come a-wassailing’) which were also in the book. The words printed in the book were collated from other versions collected by Sharp and Vaughan Williams in Gloucestershire – from William Bayliss of Buckland and Isaac Bennett of Little Sodbury – as well as nineteenth century printed sources. Magpie Lane’s words are closer to those collected at the inn in Pembridge.

You can find much more about the song and the tradition which it accompanied, on the Gloucestershire Christmas website, at www.gloschristmas.com


You can hear a solo rendition of the song at A Folk Song A Week