From the recording Carols of Christmas
Wassail, Wassail – Traditional English (Gloucestershire)
The Wassail Song – Traditional English, 17th century. The word wassail comes from Old English, meaning “Be thou hale.” The practice of going from door to door singing Christmas carols stems from an exchange between feudal lords and their peasants, in which the lord of the manor would give food and drink to the peasants in exchange for their blessing and goodwill. The text of the first tune emphasizes this somewhat threatening “trick or treat” attitude, while the second tends more toward the good-natured relationship between lord and peasants.