Bisley Wassail Song


1. Madge Stevens  The Waysailing Bowl  Madge Stevens – Waysailing Bowl

2.  Contemporary version by “Nowell Sing We Clear” Stevens Family Waysail

Link to transcription

Link to singing version

Gwilym and Carol Davies recorded the song from Sarah “Madge” Stevens on 30th January 1977 and Gwilym subsequently recorded the Stevens family, led by Madge, singing the song on 1st December 1987 in the Stirrup Cup pub, Bisley.

In about 1930, the American collector James Madison Carpenter collected virtually the same song from H W Dean in Bisley, noting that the wassail bowl, which had come from Stroud, was a big washing[-up] bowl, trimmed up with ribbons. holly, mistletoe, apples and oranges.  The bowl was used to collect money.  Dean’s version had one additional verse:

Here’s to our master and to his right ear
May God send our master a happy New Year
A happy New Year that we may all see
O, a waysailing bowl, we’ll drink unto thee.