> Coope Boyes & Simpson > Songs > Bodmin Wassail

Bodmin Wassail

[ Roud 209 ; trad.]

Dave Bland recorded a group our wassailers outside a house in Bodmin, Cornwall, on 6 January 1973. This recording was included in 1998 on the Topic anthology of songs and dance tunes of seasonal events, You Lazy Lot of Bone-Shakers (The Voice on the People Volume 16).

Coope Boyes & Simpson, Fi Fraser, Jo Freya and Georgina Boyes sang the Bodmin Wassail in 2006 on their CD Voices at the Door. They noted:

Wassailers—resplendent in black tie, top hat and tails—sing this traditional song at the door to bring good wishes to selected houses at Bodmin in Cornwall on the night of 6 January each year. In what is believed to be an unbroken tradition since 1623, when the Mayor of Bodmin gave a stipend to the wassailers, the custom previously involved taking round a wassail bowl which householders filled with drink and then shared with the assembled company. Today the wassailers make a collection for charity—though they don’t refuse a drink if invited in to take a glass or two.

We learned this cheerful start to the year from the singing of the great Vic Legg, a Bodmin wassailer whose wider repertoire can be heard on I've Come to Sing a Song (VT129CD).

Lyrics

Wassailers at Bodwin, Cornwall

Chorus (after each verse):
Oh/For singing wassail, wassail, wassail,
And jolly come to our jolly wassail

I wish you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year,
Pockets of money and a cellar of beer.

Here comes the ship out in full sail -
Ploughs the wide ocean in many a gale.

Sometimes it's laurel; sometimes it's bay.
Come fill up our bowl-dish and we'll drink away.

If you got an apple, I hope you got ten
To make some sweet cider gainst we comes again.

If missus and master is sitting at ease,
Put your hand in your pocket and give what you please.

Come knock at the knocker and ring at the bell,
I know you’ll reward us for singing wassail.

Coope Boyes & Simpson, Fi Fraser, Jo Freya and Georgina Boyes sing the Bodmin Wassail

Chorus (after each verse):
For singing wassail, wassail, wassail
And jolly come to our jolly wassail

Here comes a ship out in full sail,
Ploughs the wide ocean in many a gale.

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy new year,
Pockets of money and a cellar of beer.

If you’ve got an apple I hope you’ve got ten
To make some sweet cider gainst we comes again

Sometimes it’s laurel; sometimes it’s bay.
Come fill up our bowl-dish and we’ll drink away.

If master and mistress is sitting at ease,
Put your hand in your pocket and give what you please.

Come knock at the knocker and ring at the bell,
I know you’ll reward us for singing wassail.