Bring Us In Good Ale Anonymous

(mid-15th century) This drinking song, loosely dated to the time of Henry VI (1421-71), is connected with the Christmas season through its melody—a speeded-up version of the Christmas carol "Nowell, Nowell, Nowell"—and by connection to the Christmas custom of wassailing (from wassail, "good health"). In this festive activity, merry revelers go from house to house, singing and drinking.

The opening and chorus of the song celebrate excess, repeating: "Bring us good ale, and bring us in good ale, / For our blessed lady's sake, bring us in good ale." However, no one is interested in food. The revelers create mock excuses for why they cannot have any: Brown bread is "made of bran," bacon is "passing fat," mutton is "often lean," and, eggs have "many shells." The food list goes on and on and, obviously, lends itself well to additions and revisions by witty wassail-ers, recreatings a Christmas feast through words.

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