We’ve been a while a-wandering

Music: Trad. arr. Sheena Phillips. Words: Trad.
performance time approx 2m 10s
Range S: d' — e'' / A: c' — d'' / T: d — e' / B: c — d'
Price code: C
Complexity: **

See a perusal copy of the music.
Hear a performance
Hear a synthesized realisation
The custom of wassailing had medieval roots and continued into the 20th century. Groups of wassailers would go from door to door in the Christmas season, singing and offering a drink from a communal wassail cup or bowl in exchange for food, money or other gifts. The word ‘wassail’ derives from the Anglo-Saxon expression for ‘good health to you’ and the original wassail drink was a hot mulled cider. Wassail songs were also performed in orchards and addressed to the trees, in a ritual invocation of a good harvest.

The tune of this particular wassail song was transcribed by Vaughan Williams from singers in Yorkshire in the early 20th century. The words are an amalgam of a couple of different Yorkshire wassail songs. The arrangement is strong and simple, with a short section between verses that can be taught to the audience beforehand.

The recording is by Belsize Community Choir (with audience participation).


We’ve been a while a-wandering
Amongst the leaves so green,
But now we come a-wassailing,
So plainly to be seen:

For it’s Christmas time,
When we travel far and near,
May God bless you and send you
A happy new year!

We are not daily beggars
That beg from door to door,
But we are [name of choir]
Whom you may have heard before:

We’ve got a little purse
Made of stretching leather skin;
We want a little money
To line it well within:

Call up the butler of this house,
Put on his golden ring,
Let him bring us up a glass of beer,
The better we shall sing:

Good master and good mistress,
While you’re sitting by the fire,
Pray think of us poor singers
And please support the choir!

Traditional English (adapted)

Purchase – 4084: We’ve been a while a-wandering

Before you click the "buy" button, please enter the name of your group and select the appropriate size.
Name of group
Size of group
The price depends on the number of singers in your group. This is a single payment for a licence to make as many copies as you need for your group to rehearse and perform the song. You can also re-print - for instance, to replace copies that get lost or worn out.

Copies must not be given, lent, hired or sold to any other group.

Orders are normally despatched within 24 hours - not instantly, because each PDF file is created specially for the purchaser.

Canasg sales are processed via Paypal. Paypal lets you pay with a simple credit or debit card if you don’t have a Paypal account. Your Paypal transaction will be in sterling and it will be converted automatically if your credit card draws on a different currency. Paypal passes none of your secure information to Canasg.

If you would like us to send an invoice before you pay, or if you would like your order priced in $US or Euros, then please e-mail your order to us instead of using the form above.
Canasg Choral Music Publishing
Canasg Music
16 Morningside Park,
Edinburgh EH10 5HB, Scotland
Contact us