At a recent Christmas dinner — an annual tradition for Joe and me to get together with friends Cathey and Robert and Judy and Michael — there was a brief discussion about the Christmas carols that never get airplay on those Christmas 24/7 radio stations.
There are, in fact, lots of carols that never see the light of day, much less a turntable. Among them is “Here We Come A-wassailing.” Perhaps the carol fell out of popularity because, sadly, people really don’t go a-wassailing — or a-caroling — anymore.
A few centuries ago, in England, locals would go door-to-door singing Christmas carols, hoping for some food, a penny, or a drink from the homeowner’s wassail bowl, which usually held a brew of hot ale, apples, mead, and spices — just enough alcohol to warm up the wassailers.
During my own childhood, I have memories of neighborhood teenagers knocking on the front door and singing Christmas carols — and my parents would give them some money and Christmas cookies. Today, though, caroling seems to be relegated to indoor locations and radio stations. Door-to-door caroling is a thing of Christmas past — perhaps because of lack of time, lack of energy, or an abundance of fear.
And that’s really a shame — because “Here We Come A-wassailing” is catchy and bouncy and rousing. It’s a carol that’s built for radio play. Don’t believe me? Click play and listen to Orla and Meav of Celtic Woman, “American Idol” alumna David Archuleta, country singer Mark Wills, some fiddles, and the bodhran, or Irish drum.