We Wish You A Merry Christmas

2014
12.18

I love the singing and the arrangement of this, but was totally thrown by the lyrics and have never heard this version before. It seems it’s probably a fairly modern rewrite of what is a very old song that originally has more to do with the wassailing and door to door carolling of old and is missing its figgy pudding and the threat that, “we won’t go until we get some.”  As such, the original is one of the few carols where the authorship is not actually known and it seems not to be included in the early carol books either. It’s also unusual in containing the wish for a happy New Year, retained here in an otherwise very religious makeover. Jon explains that as far as he knows, “This is only sung in the Sheffield area and usually at or towards the end of a big group sing.” The chorus certainly works this one up a treat and you can imagine a packed pub bellowing along. I quizzed Jon for more details and he explained, “ It’s from Ian Russell’s book called The Sheffield Book Of Village Carols and is associated with the Mount family of Worrall, with several versions sung in south Yorkshire and at least one variant in Somerset.”
You can buy the December digital album now from all good download stores:

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21 Responses to “We Wish You A Merry Christmas”

  1. John Burton says:

    From the Worral “Blue Book”
    A re-cycled Courante, a minuet variant, a Traditional Cornish Carol and Wassail Song.
    Also another we do, we do this one last, the last chorus we repeat, stand and raise our glasses high.
    John B.

  2. Jane Ramsden says:

    For the curious, the recipe for ‘figgy pudding’ consisted of figs as the most important ingredient, of course, together with butter, sugar, eggs, milk, rum, apple, lemon and orange peel, nuts, cinnamon, cloves and ginger. Not dissimilar to a modern day Christmas pudding! However, in the South of England, figgy pudding was traditionally served on Palm Sunday whilst in the North, it was traditionally served on Mothering Sunday. It is said that the custom is connected to the parable of the barren fig tree (Luke 13:6-9). Wiki has one of the recipes:

    http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Cookbook:Figgy_Pudding

    And among others, Jamie Oliver has the how-to-make-it video:

    http://www.jamieoliver.com/videos/watch/figgy-pudding/298

    We’ve all missed the Thames Valley Branch Figgy Pudding Xmas Lunch on 14th December:

    http://unitedkingdom.corenetglobal.org/CORENETGLOBAL/UnitedKingdom/UploadedImages/Events%20Calendar/2010_12_14_xmas_lunch.pdf

    But figgy pudding does actually have its own small FB page:

    http://en-gb.facebook.com/pages/Figgy-pudding/105413432825330

  3. muzza says:

    This old atheist thinks that this version is excellent and would be a welcome addition to a church choir’s repertoire.

  4. SRD says:

    I have heard this version sung occasionally, which is a shame as it ought to be more popular.

  5. Dave Eyre says:

    Always finishes the singing at Dungworth. I was looking at one of the cyclostyled book that were issued before the “red” and “blue” books came in last week and from my (not so good nowadays) memory they were printed in the order they were sung.

    Lol Loy who was the organist when I fist sang at Dungworth. There were 18 carols in the book at that time – according to Ian’s small book accompanying the CD of Dungworth they through twenty or so.

    I’ll try and remember to count them this Sunday.

  6. Jill Shepherd says:

    I’ve sung a very similar version in either Wiltshire or Somerset – Eddie Upton at Folk South West will know. Love this one though, many thanks for the recording – can I teach it to my students for next Christmas please as we’re too late for this one at school :( !

  7. muzza (Surrey) says:

    A lovely little song……………….Did Jill get round to teaching her students for this year?…we need to know!….
    and with Jane in mind the chorus kept slipping into “We wish you some furry whiskers” (newcomers please note that Jane keeps a flock of cats..I wasn’t being rude!)
    Keep digging Muzza!!!..oh Lordy!

  8. Diana says:

    Wonderful! Really cheered me up after looking at the snow outside yet again. The singing was harmonious – really enjoyed it.

  9. Diana says:

    Muzza you wicked man, using that blasted word not once but FIVE times. How could you? Now don’t catch cold now you have got IT off your chest.

  10. Peter Walsh says:

    I want some of what Muzza’s been drinking…

  11. muzza (Bethlehem) says:

    Would you believe it…I have come all this way on this damn camel…and I have left the present (a new vest) behind on the hall table!…oivay

  12. Diana says:

    Muzza, what are we going to do with you? You are incorrigible.

    Peter I am not sure you want whatever Muzza has been drinking – it looks like he is seeing camels instead of the usual pink elephants.

  13. Reinhard says:

    And what is wrong with pink vests or camels? They’re a nice change to figgy puddings as Christmas presents.

  14. muzza (Bethlehem) says:

    I knew that you were out there somewhere Reinhard…………Schone Weihnachten und ein gutes neues Weste!

  15. Jane Ramsden says:

    I was singing this last night at the Manningham Mills carol concert, as led by Bradford Voices choir. We had a bit of Swahili singing thrown in as well, and lots of Roma gypsy warbling and hoofing! (You have to experience Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I Will Survive’ in Polish!) My cousin provided Asian cuisine and mince pies. The Mistress of Ceremonies was Irish. We were officially multi-cultural. As my aged aunt said, ‘i bet Lister’s Mill has never seen anything like this in its day!’

    @ Muzza: I will supply ye with the spade as it will come in handy for snow-shovelling once ye have dug yersen that nice big hole! Do not wish me some furry whiskers, as I have more than I can cope with now. In fact, I am off now to muck out my own stable – aaargh! T’is the full litter change afore bin day. On second thoughts, I will retain the shovel…

    PS I see you are now residing in Bethlehem… It is a long way to go back for a vest… or more likely in your case, a sock. Are you in the pantomime this year? If so, which half of the camel?

  16. Diana says:

    Jane we really started something with the “v”word. I don’t believe it will ever die a death now that Muzza has got hold of it. And now we are having to entertain pink ones.
    That’s just too much to bear.

    Glad you enjoyed your night out along with your aunt. Was it a good “conert” as your wrote in a previous epistle. This bug is still haunting us.

  17. muzza (Vest Surrey) says:

    @Jane……..ref the Pantomime camel…………..
    I vill be in ze back arf…ze rear end rather than the vest end.(or is that a region in London?)….
    Sorry Jon & Admin Simon ………your efforts are appreciated and we DO listen to all the songs.

  18. Jane Ramsden says:

    @ Di: We didn’t start with the vest. It all began with a simple sock! I think Pierre Walsh is to blame for the vest! And the JaJoDi bug is certainly still haunting us “as your wrote in a previous epistle” above! I suspect it is something you can catch from the rear end of a camel…

    @ Muzza: OMG… Vest Surrey… no doubt that is with a fringe on top…

  19. Diana says:

    Jane I certainly appreciate your last remark. Very witty!

  20. Muzza+410days (NW Surrey-UK) says:

    Just heard Bellowhead’s ‘Jingle Bells’ on the Chris Evans show 9:20am….instantly recognisable!……As I have followed them since finding AFSAD in June 2010 I feel I have a vested interest in their well deserved rise to fame!

  21. Diana says:

    Muzza I shake my head in sorrow. Another sly dig there I spotted it. Miss the gang don’t you?

    Nice sentiments in this carol. A really lovely version too.

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