We Wish You a Merry Christmas

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We Wish You a Merry Christmas
Genre Christmas
Language English
Instrumental version of Kevin MacLeod

"We Wish You a Merry Christmas" is a popular English Christmas carol from the West Country of England.

History[edit]

In 1935, Oxford University Press published a four-part choral arrangement by Arthur Warrell under the title "A Merry Christmas", describing the piece as a "West Country Traditional Song".[1][2] Warrell's arrangement is notable for using "I" instead of "we" in the lyrics; the first line is "I wish you a Merry Christmas". It was subsequently republished in the collection Carols for Choirs (1961), and remains widely performed.[3]

The earlier history of the carol is unclear. It is absent from the collections of West-countrymen Davies Gilbert (1822 and 1823)[4] and William Sandys (1833),[5] as well as from the great anthologies of Sylvester (1861)[6] and Husk (1864).[7] It is also missing from The Oxford Book of Carols (1928). In the comprehensive New Oxford Book of Carols (1992), editors Hugh Keyte and Andrew Parrott describe it as "English traditional" and "[t]he remnant of an envoie much used by wassailers and other luck visitors"; no source or date is given.[8]

Origin[edit]

The greeting "a merry Christmas and a happy New Year" is recorded from 1740.[9] The English custom of performing inside or outside homes in return for food and drink is illustrated in the short story The Christmas Mummers (1858) by Charlotte Yonge, in which a group of boys run to a farmer's door and sing:

I wish you a merry Christmas
And a happy New Year,
A pantryful of good roast-beef,
And barrels full of beer.[10]

After they are allowed in and perform a Mummers play, the boys are served beer by the farmer's maid.[11]

The origin of this Christmas carol lies in the English tradition wherein wealthy people of the community gave Christmas treats to the carolers on Christmas Eve, such as "figgy pudding" that was very much like modern-day Christmas puddings.[12][13][14] A variety of nineteenth-century sources state that, in the West Country of England, "figgy pudding" referred to a raisin or plum pudding, not necessarily one containing figs.[15][16][17]

Lyrics[edit]

From Warrell (1935)[edit]

1
I wish you a merry Christmas,
I wish you a merry Christmas,
I wish you a merry Christmas
And a happy New Year.
Good tidings I bring
To you and your kin;
I wish you a merry Christmas
And a happy New Year.
2
Now bring us some figgy pudding,
Now bring us some figgy pudding,
Now bring us some figgy pudding,
And bring some out here.
Good tidings I bring
To you and your kin;
I wish you a merry Christmas
And a happy New Year.
3
For we all like figgy pudding,
We all like figgy pudding,
For we all like figgy pudding,
So bring some out here.
Good tidings I bring
To you and your kin;
I wish you a merry Christmas
And a happy New Year.
4
And we won't go till we've got some,
We won't go till we've got some,
And we won't go till we've got some,
So bring some out here.
Good tidings I bring
To you and your kin;
I wish you a merry Christmas
And a happy New Year.[1]

Version 1[edit]


Chorus:
We wish you a Merry Christmas
We wish you a Merry Christmas
We wish you a Merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year

Good tidings we bring
To you and your king
We wish you a Merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year

We wish you a Merry Christmas
We wish you a Merry Christmas
We wish you a Merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year


(Some versions use "glad tidings" instead of "good tidings"[18])

Now bring us some figgy pudding,
Now bring us some figgy pudding,
Now bring us some figgy pudding,
And bring some out here

REFRAIN

For we all like figgy pudding,
We all like figgy pudding,
For we all like figgy pudding,
So bring some out here

REFRAIN

And we won't go until we've got some
We won't go until we've got some
We won't go until we've got some
So bring some out here

REFRAIN

Version 3[edit]

We wish you a Merry Christmas
We wish you a Merry Christmas
We wish you a Merry Christmas
and a Happy New Year.

REFRAIN
Good tidings we bring for you and your kin,
Good tidings for Christmas and a Happy New Year.

O bring us some figgy pudding (x3)
and bring it right here.

REFRAIN

And we won't go until we've got some (x3)
so bring some out here.

REFRAIN
It's a season for music (x3)
and a time of good Cheer.

REFRAIN

Version 4[edit]

We wish you a Merry Christmas (x3)
and a Happy New Year.

REFRAIN
Good tidings to you, where ever you are
Good Tidings at Christmas and a Happy New Year

(The first line of the refrain can also be rendered as "Good tidings we bring, to you of good cheer")

Now bring us some figgy pudding (x3)
and bring it right here

REFRAIN

now bring some tea and breakfast (x3)
and bring it right here

REFRAIN

Christmas time is coming, (x3)
It soon will be here

REFRAIN

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Warrell, Arthur (arr.) (1935). A Merry Christmas. London: Oxford University Press. ISBN 019340530X. 
  2. ^ Arthur Sydney Warrell, born Farmborough, 1883, died Bristol, 1939. Served as organist and choirmaster and several Bristol churches. Subsequently taught music at Bristol University and founded the Bristol University Choir, Orchestra, and Madrigal Singers. See Humphreys, Maggie; Robert Evans (1997). Dictionary of Composers for the Church in Great Britain and Ireland. London: Mansell. p. 351. ISBN 0-7201-2330-5. 
  3. ^ In the Carols for Choirs reprint, but not in the 1935 original, the option of replacing "I wish you a Merry Christmas" by the more common "We wish you a Merry Christmas" is given
  4. ^ Gilbert, Davies (1822). Some ancient Christmas Carols, with the Tunes to which they were formerly sung in the West of England (PDF). London: J. Nichols and Son. 
  5. ^ Sandys, William (1833). Christmas Carols, Ancient and Modern. London: Richard Beckley. 
  6. ^ Sylvester, Joshua (ed.) (1861). A Garland of Christmas Carols, Ancient and Modern. London: John Camden Hotten. 
  7. ^ Husk, William Henry (ed.) Songs of the Nativity, London: John Camden Hotten, 1864.
  8. ^ Keyte, Hugh; Parrott, Andrew, eds. (1992). The New Oxford Book of Carols. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 529. 
  9. ^ Dorman, Joseph (1740). Sir Roger de Coverly: Or, The Merry Christmas. London: James Roberts. p. 28. 
  10. ^ Yonge, Charlotte (1858). The Christmas Mummers. London: Mozley. p. 87. 
  11. ^ ibid. p. 93
  12. ^ Brech, Lewis (2010). "Storybook Advent Carols Collection Songbook". p. 48. Couples Company, Inc,
  13. ^ Lester, Meera (2007). "Why Does Santa Wear Red?: And 100 Other Christmas Curiousities Unwrapped" p.146. Adams Media,
  14. ^ "We Wish You a Merry Christmas! - Christmas Songs of England". Retrieved December 11, 2010
  15. ^ "A 'figgy pudding'; a pudding with raisins in it; a plum pudding", from "Devonshire and Cornwall Vocabulary", The Monthly Magazine vol. 29/6, no. 199, June 1, 1810. p. 435
  16. ^ "Plum-pudding and plum-cake are universally called figgy pudding and figgy cake in Devonshire", from Lady, A (1837). A dialogue in the Devonshire dialect, by a lady: to which is added a glossary, by J.F. Palmer. London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, Green, and Longman. p. 46. 
  17. ^ "Figgy Pudding ... the ordinary name for plum-pudding. Also a baked batter pudding with raisins in it", Elworthy, Frederic Thomas (1875). The Dialect of West Somerset. London: Trübner & Co. p. 252. 
  18. ^ e.g., http://michaelkravchuk.com/free-lead-sheet-merry-christmas/; accessed 2015-12-09