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Carol for Twelfth Day / Cornish Wassail Song

[ Roud 3312 ; Cornish trad.]

The Cornish composer Inglis Gundry wrote in Canow Kernow: Songs and Dances from Cornwall, ed. Inglis Gundry, The Federation of Old Cornwall Societies, 1966, pp. 18-19, about the Carol for Twelfth Day:

From a MS of Cornish Carols compiled for Davies Gilbert by John Hutchens about 1826. This is No. 37 from the MS, which belongs to Miss Minnie Davies Gilbert and Mrs. Patience Harding, great granddaughters of the original collector. Most of the carols included in this MS are now published by the Oxford University Press, under the same editorship as the present volume.

See also the chapter on Cornish Carols in Inglis Gundry's autobiography.

Louis Killen sang the Carol for Twelfth Day in 1978 on his Front Hall album Old Songs, Old Friends. He commented in his liner notes:

Last, but far from least, from Bob Lewis of Chichester comes Carol for Twelfth Day. Though the harmonic possibilities of the melody fascinate me, it is the demands (Pray, let us have it NOW!) of this Cornish wassail that appeal most to me.

Bob Lewis sang the Carol for the Twelfth Day at the Fife Traditional Singing Festival, Collessie, Fife in May 2009. This recording was published a year later on his Festival CD Drive Sorrows Away. The liner notes commented:

A wassailing song from Cornwall. Bob put this song together from various sources, but the only person he ever heard sing it was his father who remembered it being sung by the wassailers in his youth as they travelled from door to door near his home in Cornwall.

Jon Boden learnt this this carol from Louis Killen and sang it as the Cornish Wassail Song as the New Year's Eve 2010 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day.

Lyrics

Sweet master of this habitation with our mistress be so kind,
As to grant an invitation that we may this favour find;
To be now invited in and in joy and mirth begin,
Happy, sweet and pleasant songs which unto this time belong.
Let every loyal, honest soul contribute to our wassail bowl.

So now may you enjoy the blessings of a loving, virtuous wife,
Riches, honour now possessing and a long and happy life;
Living in prosperity, endless generosity
Always be maintained, I pray, don’t forget the good old way.
Let every loyal, honest soul contribute to our wassail bowl.

So now before the season is departed in your presence we appear,
Therefore then be noble-hearted and afford some dainty cheer;
Pray let us have it now what the season doth allow,
What the house may now afford should be placed upon the board.
Whether it be roast-beef or fowl and liquor well our wassail bowl.
Let every loyal, honest soul contribute to our wassail bowl.

For now it is the season of leisure then to those who kindness show,
May they have wealth and peace and pleasure and the spring of bounty flow,
To enrich them while they live that they may afford to give,
To maintain the good old way, many a long and happy day.
Let every loyal, honest soul contribute to our wassail bowl.

Therefore you are to be commended if in this you will not fail,
Now our song is almost ended fill our bowl with nappy ale;
And we’ll drink a full carouse to the master of this house,
Aye and to our mistress dear, wishing both a happy year
With peace and love without control who liquored well our wassail bowl.
Let every loyal, honest soul contribute to our wassail bowl.