And well our Christian sires of old Loved when the year its course had rolld, And brought blithe Christmas back again, With all his hospitable train. Domestic and religious rite Gave honour to the holy night; On Christmas Eve the bells were rung; On Christmas Eve the mass was sung: That only night in all the year, Saw the stoled priest the chalice rear. The damsel donnd her kirtle sheen; The hall was dressd with holly green; Forth to the wood did merry men go, To gather in the mistletoe. Then opend wide the Barons hall To vassal, tenant, serf and all; Power laid his rod of rule aside And Ceremony doffd his pride. The heir, with roses in his shoes, That night might village partner choose; The Lord, underogating, share The vulgar game of post and pair. All haild, with uncontrolld delight, And general voice, the happy night, That to the cottage, as the crown, Brought tidings of salvation down.
The fire, with well dried logs supplied, Went roaring up the chimney wide; The huge hall tables oaken face, Scrubbd till it shone, the day to grace, Bore then upon its massive board No mark to part the squire and lord. Then was brought in the lusty brawn, By old blue coated serving man; Then the grim boars head frownd on high, Crested with bays and rosemary. Well can the green garbd ranger tell, How, when, and where, the monster fell; What dogs before his death to tore, And all the baiting of the boar. The wassel round, in good brown bowls, Garnishd with ribbons, blithely trowls. There the huge sirloin reekd; hard by Plum porridge stood, and Christmas pie; Nor faild old Scotland to produce, At such high tide, her savoury goose. Then came the merry makers in, And carols roard with blithesome din; If unmelodious was the song, It was a hearty note, and strong. Who lists may in their mumming see Traces of ancient mystery; White shirts supplied the masquerade, And smutted cheeks the visors made; But, O! what maskers, richly dight, Can boast of bosoms half so light! England was merry England, when Old Christmas brought his sports again. Twas Christmas broachd the mightiest ale; Twas Christmas told the merriest tale; A Christmas gambol oft could cheer The poor mans heart through half the year.