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The Monmouth Wassail

[ Roud - ; Mudcat 34299 ; trad.]

Calennig sang The Monmouth Wassail in 1980 on their Greenwich Village album Songs and Tunes From Wales. They noted:

A calennig, especially in Glamorgan and Gwent, was an apple or orange, mounted on sticks and decorated with holly and spikes, which groups of children carried round from door to door as they sang New Year greetings. Calennig was also the name given to the money or food they received for doing so. In Chepstow they called it a monty and the rhyme which opens the track is one of the traditional calls from that town. The Monmouth Wassail could have been sung on New Year’s Day or 5 January, a day when farmers in North East Gwent and neighbouring Herefordshire wassailed their crops and animals.

Melrose Quartet sang Monmouth Wassail on their 2023 album Make the World Anew. They noted:

James [Fagan] learned this from Songs and Tunes From Wales by Calennig, the duo of Pat Smith and Mick Tems. A calennig is a decorated apple mounted on sticks, and carried from door to door by children singing New Year greetings—a tradition which was common in Monmouthshire.


Calennig sing The Monmouth Wassail

So here’s to old cider and here’s to new cake,
And here’s to us poor lads must go before daybreak.
For our time it is precious, we can no more stay here,
May the good Lord God grant you a happy new year.