Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, be plenteous in mercy is to have the real spirit of Christmas. Calvin Coolidge.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

We Wish You a Merry Christmas

 
Most of our traditional Christmas carols hold deeply religious meaning, but some like "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," have a more humorous twist. The song itself has quite a history, which reflects the wit of the Victorian Era carolers and their love for a traditional Christmas dessert.

“We Wish You a Merry Christmas" is a popular secular sixteenth-century English carol from the West Country of England. The origin of this Christmas carol lies in the English tradition where wealthy people of the community gave Christmas treats to the carolers on Christmas Eve such as 'figgy puddings' that were very much like modern day Christmas puddings. It is one of the few English traditional carols that makes mention of the New Year celebration. It is often the last song carolers sing to people.
 
The author of the beloved Christmas carol is unknown as is the composer but that hasn't stopped carolers and others from singing it over the decades.



The lyrics themselves are funny and the meaning's behind them. Like "We wish you a Merry Christmas" was simply put a line to greet the household the carolers were singing at. And "Oh, bring us some figgy pudding, we won't go until we get some" was saying that basically the carolers were there to sing and would keep singing until they got paid.
From 1647-1660 Christmas carols were banned by the church, specifically Protestant Oliver Cromwell who thought that the songs made a mockery of the holiday and made it less somber than it should be. Churchgoers then started going door-to-door singing so that the traditional songs could be kept alive. It wasn't until the 19th century that Christmas carols became popular once again.
The fun and humorous song has been recreated quite a few times over the decades. The most notable singers are John Denver and the Muppets, James Belushi in the movie Jingle all the Way, William Studwell, Carol Mueller and country legend Johnny Cash.
Regardless, of the origins or the singer We Wish you a Merry Christmas has been and will continue to be one of the favorite carols to sing during the holiday season for us all.


 Lyrics:
We wish you a merry Christmas
We wish you a merry Christmas
We wish you a merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Glad tidings we bring
To you and your kin;
Glad tidings for Christmas
And a happy New Year!

Now bring us some figgy pudding
Now bring us some figgy pudding
Now bring us some figgy pudding
Please bring it right here!
Glad tidings we bring
To you and your kin;
Glad tidings for Christmas
And a happy New Year!

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 it out here!
Glad tidings we bring
To you and your kin;
Glad tidings for 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
Glad tidings we bring
To you and your kin;
Glad tidings for Christmas
And a happy New Year!

8 comments:

  1. We Wish You a Merry Christmas

    The author and composer of We Wish You a Merry Christmas cannot be traced however it is believed to date back to England in the sixteenth century. The tradition of carollers being given Christmas treats for singing to wealthy members of the community is reflected in this Christmas song - We Wish You a Merry Christmas! Over the years the fashion for figgy puddings mentioned in We Wish You a Merry Christmas has faded. But for the curious, the recipe consisted of the most important ingredient which was of course figs together with butter, sugar, eggs ,milk, rum, apple, lemon and orange peel, nuts, cinnamon, cloves and ginger! Not dissimilar to the modern day Christmas Puddings!

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  2. Version 2

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

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

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

    Oh, bring us a figgy pudding (x3)
    and a cup of good cheer

    REFRAIN We won't go until we get some, (x3)
    so bring it right here

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

    REFRAIN

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  3. Here is another version of 'We Wish You a Merry Christmas'

    It's from Roger Whittaker, but this song features a children choir harmonizing.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wR4m7dzaTrE

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  4. All the songs of Christmas have a universal appeal. The song ‘We Wish you a merry Christmas' brings a smile on the face of anybody who listens to it. The word Merry itself invokes in us the feelings of happiness and merriment This song in particular makes one aware of the fact that the festival of Christmas has arrived and that we should celebrate it in the best way possible. We wish you a Merry Christmas History reverts back to the 16th century.
    The history of the song, we Wish You a Merry Christmas, is quite obscure. But this did not affect the song from gaining its popularity as it is sung with great pleasure by the people of the world at the time of the festival of Christmas. Christmal Carnivals provides information on We Wish you a Merry Christmas History and also on the other songs of Christmas.

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  5. This old luck song is said to come from the West of England in the 16th century, but almost nothing else is known of this song. It does not occur in any of the oldest sources to which I have access (that is, Kele, Gilbert, Sandys, Sylvestre, Husk, Bullen, Bramley & Stainer, Greene, The Oxford Book of Carols, etc.), but is regularly found in most modern collections of carols, and is very frequently heard during the Christmas-tide (although Keyte and Parrott feel that it is "in all too common use by modern doorstep carrolers."). Simon includes this as one of the songs found in the repertoire of the Waits.

    As is the case with many old songs, there can be found a wide mixture in the selection of some individual words in the lyrics and the refrain, but there is rarely a sufficiently different version that would warrant another page. There are a couple of other versions that begin with the same first line, but are otherwise very different songs. See: We Wish You A Merry Christmas - Version 1 from Manx and We Wish You A Merry Christmas - Version 2 from Manx. A. H. Bullen also recorded a Wassailing Song whose first line was "We wish you merry Christmas, also a glad New Year." Finally, "We Wish You" is also the inspiration for a number of parodies such as We Wish You a Happy Halogen; there are other parodies that cannot be included in a family-safe web site.

    There is a terrific version written by Mr. Willys Peck Kent and Ms. Emma Mueden who were teachers at the Ethical Cultural School, New York, in the early years of the 20th century. This version is a "round":

    ||: We wish you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year,
    With a pocketful of money and a cellarful of beer,
    And a good fat pig to last you all the year! :||

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  6. Lyrical Meaning

    The lyrics hold significant meaning from the carolers. The line, "we wish you a merry Christmas," was simply to greet the household. The lines, "oh, bring us some figgy pudding; we won't go until we get some," actually meant the group wanted the treats they often received for payment and they would keep singing until they got them.

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    Replies
    1. Figgy pudding is a traditional English Christmas dessert similar to American Christmas pudding - the term figgy pudding was coined by the song "We Wish You a Merry Christmas."
      Because carolers would often wait at door steps until they received their treats, they were called "waits" by the Victorian English wealthy.

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