Yule Song Lyrics

This page gives the lyrics for the traditional English Yule Songs which are described on the Yule Songs page at http://piereligion.org/yulesongs.html .

Proto-Indo-European Religion | Festivals, Food and Farming | Yule Songs

These songs are for the celebration of Yule or the Winter Solstice which usually falls on December 21st. They are almost all in English, with a few translated from Celtic languages. This group of songs was put together to encourage people to sing more by making it easy to find the lyrics, and print them out if you like. I hope you may feel inspired to go wassailing, or at least that you may enjoy singing the songs yourself.

I ask that you not copy this webpage onto other sites on the internet because I plan to update it and add to it and I don’t want multiple copies floating around. However I encourage you to print it out as long as you don’t charge money for it. All of these songs are traditional and they are in the public domain as far as I know, except as noted.

1. This Endris Night Holly berries
This endris night I saw a sight,
A star as bright as day:
And ever among, a maiden sung,
Lullay, bye bye lullay.

This lovely lady sat and sang,
and to her child did say:
“My son, my brother, father dear
Why liest thou thus in hay?”

The child then spake in his talking
And unto his mother said
“Yes, I am known as heaven-king
In crib though I be laid!”

“Now sweet son, since thou art a king
Why art thou laid in stall?
Why dost not order thy bedding
In some great king’s hall?”

“Mother mild, I am thy child
Though I lie among the hay
But nevertheless, do not thou cease
To sing bye bye lullay.”

“Now tell, sweet son, how it were done,
How should I keep thee, pray?
And make thee here, glad of cheer
And sing bye bye, lullay.”

“That child or man, who will or can
Be merry on my day
To bliss thou bring, and I shall sing
Lullay, bye bye, lullay.”

2. Welcome Yule!
Burden (e.g. Chorus):
Welcome Yule, thou merry man,
In worship of this holy day.
Welcome Yule! Welcome Yule!

1. Welcome be thou, Heaven-King,
Welcome born in one morning,
Welcome for whom we shall sing,
Welcome Yule! Welcome Yule!

2. Welcome be ye, good New Year,
Welcome, Twelfth Day, both in fere. [in fere = ‘together’]
Welcome saints, loved and dear,
Welcome Yule! Welcome Yule!

3. Welcome be ye that are here,
Welcome all, and make good cheer;
Welcome all, another year,
Welcome Yule! Welcome Yule!
#holly

Holly and Ivy Songs

4b. The Pagan Carol #pagan
This is a version of the Holly and the Ivy with lyrics by Doreen Valiente. It is given from her website. It is copyright to her and I hope it’s ok that I have included it here.

The holly and the ivy
When they are both full grown,
Of all the trees that are in the wood,
The holly bears the crown.

Oh, the rising of the sun
And the running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ,
Sweet singing in the choir,

The holly bears a blossom
As white as lily flower,
And when the Sun is newly born,
’Tis at the darkest hour –

The holly bears a berry
And blood-red is its hue,
And when the Sun is newly born,
It maketh all things new.

The holly bears a leaf
That is for ever green,
And when the Sun is newly born,
Let love and joy be seen.

The holly and the ivy
The mistletoe entwine,
And when the Sun is newly born,
Be joy to thee and thine.

Chorus:
Oh, the rising of the Sun
And the running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ,
Sweet singing in the choir.

5. Nay, Nay, Ivy
This song is also called The Contest of the Ivy and the Holly, or Holly and His Merry Men. The version of words that I am giving here seems to be from William Henry Husk.

Chorus Nay, nay, Ivy, it may not be, Iwis
Let Holly have the mastery, as the manner is.

Holly standeth in the hall fair to behold
Ivy stands without the door, she is full sore a cold.
Holly and his merry men, they dancen and they sing,
Ivy and her maidens, they weepen and they wring.
Chorus

Holly hath berries red as any rose.
The forester, the hunter, keep them from the does
Ivy beareth berries as black as any slo[e],
There come the owl and eat him as she go.
Chorus

Holly hath birds a fair full flock,
The nightingale, the poppinjay, the gentle laverock.
Good Ivy, say to us, what birds hast thou?
None but the owlet that cries “how, how!”
Chorus

6. Ivy is Good
Burden 1: Ivy is good and glad to see,
Ivy is fair in his degree.

1. Ivy is both fair and green
in winter and in summer also,
and it is medicinable I ween,
who knew the virtues that long thereto:
Ivy, Ivy
It is good and lusty
and in his kind a well good tree.

Burden 2. Ivy is good and glad to see,
Ivy is fair in his degree.

2. Ivy hath virtues full good;
namely, spreading over the ground;
whether it be in town or wood,
it helpeth the sore and maketh sound:
Ivy, Ivy
in book is found full sikerly
that green is gladsome to see.

Burden 1. Ivy is good and glad to see,
Ivy is fair in his degree.

3. When other trees most do fail,
then beareth Ivy his berries full bold;
in great stormés of snow and hail
it sparés for no weather’s cold:
Ivy, Ivy
to bring forth fruit full properly,
to beast and bird full great plenty.

Burden 2. Ivy is good and glad to see,
Ivy is fair in his degree.

4. The fairest bird that flieth by sky,
for gladness of that lusty tree,
Might make his nest in green Ivy
To nourish his birdés fair and free:
Ivy, Ivy
Therein is covert well privy
To comfort him that there will be.

Burden 1. Ivy is good and glad to see,
Ivy is fair in his degree.

5. Where it taketh hold it keepeth fast
And strenketh it that is him by; [strengtheneth]
It keepeth wall from cost and waste,
As men may see all day at hye:
Ivy, Ivy
I can tell no cause why
But we must love that gentle tree.

Burden 2. Ivy is good and glad to see,
Ivy is fair in his degree. #greenivy

7. Green Ivy O
O the Ivy O, she do grow, she do grow,
And the Holly he is white,
While the little birds sing because it is Spring,
And the plough boys follow the plough.
O it’s Ivy O, Green Ivy O, O the Ivy she do grow!

O the Ivy O, she do twine all about,
And the Holly he is green.
They tosses the hay in the fields all day,
While the Sun he do shine out.
O it’s Ivy O, Green Ivy O, O the Ivy she do twine about.

O the Ivy O, at the Allerntide, [= Hallowtide]
And the Holly he turn yellow,
There be apples fell adown, and they picks ’en from the ground,
And they lay ’en in the tallet side to side.
O it’s Ivy O, Green Ivy O, O the Ivy at Allerntide.

O the Ivy O, she’s the Queen of old
And the Holly he is red.
Hang ’en high in the farm and us won’t come to no harm,
Till the Chrissimas days be told.
O it’s Ivy O, Green Ivy O, O the Ivy she is Queen of old.

8. Green Growith the Holly
Chorus:
Green growith the holly,
So doth the ivy,
Thow wynter blastys blow never so hye
Green growith the holly...

As the holly grouth grene
And never chaungeth hew,
So I am, ever hath bene
Unto my lady trew.
Grene growith the holly...

As the holly grouth grene
With ive all alone
When flowerys cannot be sene,
and grenewode levys be gone,
Grene growith the holly...

Now unto my lady
Promyse to her I make,
Frome all other only
To her I me betake,
Grene growith the holly...

Adew, myne one lady,
Adew, my specyall,
Who hath my hart trewely,
Be suere, and ever shall.
Grene growith the holly...
#wassail

Wassailing

9. The Earliest Wassail (that we know of)
This is quoted from Holinshed’s Chronicles. Holinshed was quoting Geoffrey of Monmouth writing in about 1135, who was describing events that are supposed to have taken place in 449 CE.
A great supper therefore was prepared by Hengist at the which it pleased the king [Vortigern] to be present, and he [Hengist] appointed his daughter [Rowen], when every man began to be somewhat merry with drink, to bring in a cup of gold full of good and pleasant wine, and to present it to the king saying; “Wassail.” Which she did in such comely and decent manner, as she that knew how to do it well enough, so as the king [Vortigern] marveled greatly thereat, and not understanding what she meant by that salutation, demanded what it signified. To whom it was answered by Hengist, that she wished him well and the meaning of it was, that he should drink after her, joining thereto this answer, “Drinke haile.” Whereupon the king (as he was informed) took the cup at the damsel’s hand, and drank.

10. A Jolly Wassel-Bowl
A jolly wassel-bowl,
A wassel of good ale,
Well fare the butler’s soul,
That setteth this to sale
Our jolly wassel.

Good dame, here at your door
Our wassel we begin,
We are all maidens poor,
We pray now let us in,
With our wassel.

Our wassel we do fill
With apples and with spice,
Then grant us your good will
To taste here once or twice
Of our good wassel.

If any maidens be
Here dwelling in this house,
They kindly will agree
To take a full carouse
Of our wassel.

But here they let us stand
All freezing in the cold;
Good master, give command
To enter and be bold,
With our wassel.

Much joy into this hall
With us is entered in;
Our master, first of all,
We hope will now begin
Of our wassel.

And after his good wife
Our spiced bowl will try;
The Lord prolong your life;
Good fortune we espy
For our wassel.

Some bounty from your hands,
Our wassel to maintain;
We’ll buy no house nor lands
With that which we do gain
With our wassel.

This is our merry night
Of choosing king and queen,
Then be it your delight
That something may be seen
In our wassel.

It is a noble part
To bear a liberal mind;
God bless our master’s heart,
For here we comfort find,
With our wassel.

And now we must be gone
To seek out more good cheer,
Where bounty will be shown
As we have found it here,
With our wassel.

Much joy betide them all, [make that “betide you all”]
Our prayers shall be still,
We hope and ever shall,
For this your great good will
To our wassel.

11. Gloucestershire Wassail
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 wassailing bowl, we’ll drink to thee.

So here is to Cherry and to his right cheek,
Pray god send our master a good piece of meat,
And a good piece of meat that may we all see,
With the wassailing 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
And a good Christmas pie that may we all see
With our wassailing bowl we’ll drink to thee.

So here is to Broad May and to her 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 wassailing bowl, we’ll drink to thee.

And here is to Fillpail and to her left ear
Pray God send our master a happy New Year
And a happy New Year as ever he did see;
With our wassailing bowl we’ll drink to thee.

And here is to Colly and to her long tail,
Pray god send our master he never may fail
A bowl of strong beer, I pray you draw near,
And our jolly wassail it’s then you shall hear.

Come, butler, come fill us a bowl of the best,
Then 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 slipped back the lock
Who tripped to the door and pulled back the pin
For to let these jolly wassailers in.

(repeat first verse)

12. Gower Wassail
A wassail, a wassail, throughout all this town,
Our cup it is white and our ale it is brown.
Our wassail is made of the good ale and cake,
Some nutmeg and ginger, the best we can make.

Chorus Fol the dol, fol the dol-de-dol,
Fol the dol-de-dol, fol the dol-de-dee,
Fol the der-o, fol the daddy,
Sing tu-re-lye-do!

Our wassail is made of an elderberry bough
And so, my good neighbour, we’ll drink unto thou;
Besides all of that, we have apples in store,
Pray let us come in for it’s cold by the door.
Chorus

We know by the moon that we are not too soon,
We know by the sky that we are not too high,
We know by the stars that we are not too far,
We know by the ground that we are within sound.
Chorus

There’s master and a mistress sitting down by the fire,
While we poor wassailers do wait in the mire.
And if we’re alive for another New Year,
Perhaps we may call and see who do live here.
Chorus

Now master and mistress, we know you will give
Unto our jolly wassail as long as we live
And if we live to another year
Perhaps we’ll call and see who do live here.
Chorus

* Note on the language: The wassail is probably made from the “elderberry tree” (a good source of fruit for wine in northern countries) so that they can then “drink unto thee” which would still rhyme and it would be grammatically correct. [fuggle26]

Somerset Wassail
Wassail and wassail, all over the town,
The cup it is white and the ale it is brown,
The cup it is made of the good ashen tree,
And so is the malt of the best barley

Chorus: For it’s your wassail, and it’s our wassail!
And it’s joy be to you, and a jolly wassail!

O master and mistress are you all within,
Pray open the door and let us come in
O master and mistress a-sitting by the fire,
Pray think upon poor travellers, a-travelling in the mire.
Chorus

O where is the maid, with the silver-headed pin,
To open the door and let us come in?
O master and mistress, it is our desire
A good loaf and cheese, and a toast by the fire.
Chorus

There was an old man and he had an old cow,
And how for to keep her he didn’t know how.
He built up a barn for to keep his cow warm
And a drop or two of cider will do us no harm.
[Chorus only for this verse:]
No harm, boys, harm, no harm, boys, harm
And a drop or two of cider will do us no harm.

God bless the master of this house likewise the Mistress too
And all the little children that round the table go,
Oh master and mistress, now we must be gone,
God bless all in this house till we do come again.
Chorus
#boar

Mothersnight

13. Boar’s Head Carol
Queen’s College, Oxford, version of 1811

The boar’s head in hand bear I,
Bedecked with bays and rosemary,
And I pray you, my masters, be merry,
Quot estis in convivio.
Caput apri defero,
Reddens laudes domino.

The boar’s head as I understand,
Is the bravest dish in all the land
Which thus bedecked with a gay garland,
Let us servire cantico:
Caput apri defero,
Reddens laudes domino.

Our steward hath provided this,
In honour of the King of bliss,
Which on this day to be served is,
In Reginensi atrio;
Caput apri defero,
Reddens laudes domino.

(repeat first verse and chorus.)

* The Oxford Book of Carols gives a translation of the Latin:
Quot estis in convivio “So many as are in the feast.”
Caput apri defero, reddens laudes domino “The boar’s head I bring, giving praises to god.”
(Let us) servire cantico “Let us serve [it] with a song.”
In Reginensi atrio “in the Queen’s hall” referring to Queen’s College, where this version of the song is sung.

14. Deck the Halls or Nos Galan Gaeaf
Deck the halls with boughs of holly,
Fa la la la la la la la la.
’Tis the season to be jolly
Fa la, etc.
Don we now our gay apparel,*1
Fa la, etc.
Troll the ancient Yuletide carol,
Fa la, etc.

See the blazing Yule before us,*2
Strike the harp and join the chorus,
Follow me in merry measure
While I tell of Yuletide’s treasure.*3

Fast away the old year passes,
Hail the new, ye lads and lasses,
Sing we joyous all together, *4
Heedless of the wind and weather.

The original version of this song, as it is known in English, had variant lines:
*1 “fill the mead cup, drain the barrel!”
*2 “see the flowing bowl before us”
*3 “While I tell of beauty’s treasure”
*4 “Laughing, quaffing all together”
Alternative words are attributed to John Hughes. Apparently somebody removed all the references to alcohol. I’m not sure what their problem was with “beauty’s treasure.” #twelve

15. The Twelve Days of Christmas
On the First Day of Christmas, my true love sent to me
A partridge in a pear tree.

On the Second Day of Christmas, my true love sent to me
Two turtledoves
And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the Third Day of Christmas, my true love sent to me
Three French Hens
Two turtledoves
And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the Fourth Day of Christmas, my true love sent to me
Four calling birds
Three French hens
Two turtledoves
And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the Fifth Day of Christmas, my true love sent to me
Five Gold Rings
Four calling birds
Three French hens
Two turtledoves
And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the Sixth Day of Christmas, my true love sent to me
Six geese a-laying
[you get the idea!....]

On the Seventh Day of Christmas, my true love sent to me
Seven swans a-swimming....

On the Eighth Day of Christmas, my true love sent to me
Eight maids a-milking....

On the Ninth Day of Christmas, my true love sent to me
Nine ladies waiting....

On the Tenth Day of Christmas, my true love sent to me
Ten lords a-leaping.....

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas, my true love sent to me
Eleven pipers piping.....

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas, my true love sent to me
Twelve drummers drumming.....

16. We Wish You a Merry Christmas
(Figgy Pudding Song)

We wish you a Merry Christmas,
We wish you a Merry Christmas,
We wish you a Merry Christmas,
And a Happy New Year!
Chorus: Good tidings we bring, to you and your kin
We wish you a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!

Now bring us a figgy pudding
Bring us a figgy pudding
Bring us a figgy pudding
And a cup of good cheer!
Chorus: Good tidings we bring...

For we all like figgy pudding
We all like figgy pudding
We all like figgy pudding
So bring some out here.
Chorus: Good tidings we bring...

We won’t go until we get some
We won’t go until we get some
We won’t go until we get some
So bring some out here.
Chorus: Good tidings we bring...

(Repeat the first verse and chorus, if you are feeling particularly civil.)

Parting Company

To thank your host and to say goodbye to the holiday and the season, here are two more Wassail Songs.

17. Yorkshire Wassail Song
We’ve been a while a wandering
Among the leaves so green,
Here we come a-wassailing,
So fair to be seen.
For it’s Christmas time, when we travel far and near
May god bless you and send you a happy new year

We are not daily beggars
That beg from door to door
But we are your neighbors’ children
Whom you have seen before
For it’s Christmas time, when we travel far and near
May god bless you and send you a happy new year

Good master and good mistress,
While you’re sitting by the fire,
Pray think of us poor children,
Who are wandering in the mire.
For it’s Christmas time, when we travel far and near
May god bless you and send you a happy new year

Bring us out a table,
And spread it with a cloth
Bring us out a mouldy cheese
And some of your Christmas loaf
For it’s Christmas time, when we travel far and near
May god bless you and send you a happy new year

God bless the master of this house
And bless the mistress too
And all the little children
That round the table go
For it’s Christmas time, when we travel far and near
May god bless you and send you a happy new year. #herewecome

18. The Wassail Song
Although I have left them in the traditional form, the lyrics have been rewritten a little by Hilda Marshall, and you can sing “We bless you and wish you a happy New Year, And we wish you a happy New Year” if you prefer.

Here we come a-wassailing
Among the leaves so green,
Here we come a-wandering,
So fair to be seen.

Chorus: Love and joy come to you
And to you your wassail too,
And god bless you and send you a happy New Year,
May god send you a happy New Year.

Our wassail cup is made
Of the rosemary tree,
And so is your beer
Of the best barley
Love and joy come to you... etc.

We are not daily beggars
That beg from door to door
But we are your neighbors’ children
Whom you have seen before
Love and joy come to you... etc.

Call up the butler of this house,
Put on his golden ring
Let him bring us a glass of beer
And better we shall sing.
Love and joy come to you... etc.

Bring us out a table,
And spread it with a cloth
Bring us out a mouldy cheese
And some of your Christmas loaf
Love and joy come to you... etc.

Good master and good mistress,
While you’re sitting by the fire,
Pray think of us poor children,
Who are wandering in the mire.
Love and joy come to you... etc.

God bless the master of this house
And bless the mistress too
And all the little children
That round the table go
Love and joy come to you... etc.

Here we come a-wassailing
Among the leaves so green,
Here we come a-wandering,
So fair to be seen.
Love and joy come to you... etc.

References
All of the sources for these songs are given at the Yule Songs page which is at piereligion.org/yulesongs.html.

This page is copyright to me as explained at the top of the page, which is only because I don’t want other people to copy it to their domains but I encourage you to print it out and use it for singing. Although the page is copyright to me, none of the songs are because they are all traditional and in the public domain, except as noted.

This page was originally published at pierce.yolasite.com/yuleslyrics but Yola was hacked in November 2011, so it is now published here.

© 2007, last updated 12/4/2016, at piereligion.org/yuleslyrics.html

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