Thursday, December 25, 2014

To Drive the Cold Winter Away

All hayle to the dayes,
That merite more praise,
    then all the rest of the yeare:
And welcome the nights,
That double delights,
    as well the poore as the Peere:
Good fortune attend,
Each merry mans friend,
    that doth but the best that he may:
Forgetting old wrongs,
With Carrols and Songs,
    to drive the cold winter away .
Let misery packe,
With a whip at his backe,
    to the deep Tantalian flood:
In the Lethe profound,
Let envy be drown'd,
    that pines at another mans good:
Let sorrowes expence,
Be banded from hence,
    all payments of griefe delay:
And wholly consort,
With mirth and with sport,
    to drive the cold winter away .

Tis ill for a mind,
To anger inclind,
    to ruminate injuries now:
If wrath be to seeke,
Do not let her thy cheeke,
    nor yet inhabite thy brow.
Crosse out of those bookes,
Malevolent lookes,
    both beauty and youthes decay:
And spend the long night,
In honest delight,
    to drive the cold winter away .

The Court in all state,
Now opens her gate,
    and bids a free welcome to most:
The City likewise,
Though somewhat precise,
    doth willingly part with her cost:
And yet by report,
From City and Court,
    the Countrey gets the day:
More Liquor is spent,
And better content,
    to drive the cold winter away .

The Gentry there,
For cost do not spare,
    the Yeomanry fast in Lent:
The Farmers and such,
Thinke nothing too much,
    if they keep but to pay their Rent:
The poorest of all,
Do merrily call,
    want, beares but a little sway:
For a Song or a tale,
Ore a Pot of good Ale,
    to drive the cold winter away .

Thus none will allow,
Of solitude now,
    but merrily greets the time:
To make it appeare,
Of all the whole yeare,
    that this is accounted the Prime.
December is seene,
Apparel'd in greene,
    and January fresh as May:
Comes dancing along,
With a Cup and a Song,
    to drive the cold winter away .

T His time of the yeare,
Is spent in good Cheare,
    kind neighbours together meet:
To sit by the fire,
With friendly desire,
    each other in love to greet:
Old grudges forgot,
Are put in the Pot,
    all sorrowes aside they lay:
The old and the yong,
Doth Caroll his Song,
    to drive the cold winter away .

Sisley and Nanny ,
More jocund then any,
    as blithe as the Month of June :
Do Caroll and sing,
Like birds of the Spring,
    no Nightingale sweeter in tune:
To bring in content,
When Summer is spent,
    in pleasant delight and play:
With mirth and good cheere,
To end the old yeere,
    and drive the cold winter away .

The Shepheard, the Swaine,
Do highly disdaine,
    to waste out his time in care:
And Clim of the Clough,
Hath plenty enough,
    if but a penny he spare:
To spend at the night,
In joy and delight,
    now after his labours all day:
For better then Lands,
Is helpe of his hands,
    to drive the cold winter away .

To Maske and to Mum,
Kind neighbours will come,
    with Wassels of hot brown Ale;
To drinke and carouse,
To all in this house,
    as merry as Bucks in the pale:
Where Cake, Bread and Cheese,
Is brought for your fees,
    to make you the longer stay:
At the fire to warme,
Will do you no harme,
    to drive the cold winter away .

When Christmas tide,
Comes in like a Bride,
    with Holly and Ivy clad:
Twelve dayes in the yeare,
Much mirth and good cheare,
    in every houshold is had:
The Countrey guise,
Is then to devise,
    some gambole of Christmas play:
Whereas the yong men,
Do best that they can,
    to drive the cold winter away .

When white-bearded Frost,
Hath threatened his worst,
    and fallen from Branch & Bryer:
Then time away cals,
From Husbandry Hals,
    & from the good Countrymans fire:
Together to go,
To Plow and to sow,
    to get us both food and array:
And thus with content,
The time we have spent,
    to drive the cold winter away .

 - Anonymous English broadside, from the Pepys collection, ca. 1625. The song is best known today from Loreena McKennitt, who covered a slightly different text under the title "In Praise of Christmas," though the original broadsheet identifies it as "a pleasant new country ditty merrily shewing how to drive the cold winter away." (McKennitt, wisely given most attitudes about Christmas music, avoided recording the entire dozen verses of the Pepys broadsheet reproduced here.)

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