About Me

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Lake Mathews (Perris), CA, United States
Born in Illinois, I grew up in Wilmette, a northern suburb of Chicago. I have one sibling, an older brother. I am married, for the 2nd time now, to Butch & got 4 children in the deal. They have gone on to make me grandmother 25 times over & great-grandmother to over 20!. After many years working in industry, I got my bachelors and masters degrees in speech communication, & was a professor in that field for 13 years. I retired in 2001 & returned to school & got my doctorate in folklore. Now I meld my two interests - folklore & genealogy - & add my teaching background, resulting in my current profession: speaker/author/entertainer of genealogically-related topics. I play many folk instruments, but my preference is guitar, which I have been playing since 1963. I write the "Aunty Jeff" column for the Informer, newsletter of the Jefferson County NY Gen. Soc. I work in partnership with Gena Philibert-Ortega & Sara Cochran as Genealogy Journeys® where we focus on educating folks about Social History. More about that: genaandjean.blogspot.com. More on our podcasts: genjourneys.podbean.com. More about my own projects: Circlemending.org.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Monday "Mum-along" with Circlemending

Since I was busy yesterday (Sunday) dealing with computer email problems, I never got the Singalong blog posted, so today I will suggest a Mum-along. The Mummers were the folks who took holiday music to the street when Cromwell banned it from the Church (1600s). While many mumming songs have become our regular Christmas carols (from the French carole meaning "ring" - songs that would accompany dancing, usually those performed in a circle, or ring), I thought it would be interesting to see if others like mumming songs as I do. Sometimes they are songs sung as rounds (another form of ring), sometimes they are songs that simply express the joy of the season. One verse resembles the previous, with just simple changes, encouraging people to sing along.

While the mummers usually did their plays and music in disguise (possibly so that Cromwell's people would not recognize them, saving them from the stocks), we sing them around the piano, fireplace, or even going door-to-door. They often wish happiness and health to the household they visit, suggesting a prosperous New Year. They also often ask the householder to give them some food, drink, or even money in exchange for those wishes.

One of my personal favorites of the mumming songs is named for the punch - wassail - that is also part of the holiday (read more about that at Wikipedia, and check the companion article on wassailing, the focus of the song I include here).

Here we come a-wassailing among the leaves so green,
Here we come a-wandering, so fair to be seen,
Love and joy come to you, and a Merry Christmas too,
And God Bless you and send you a happy New Year,
And God send you a happy New Year.

(See the full set of lyrics here). On YouTube, there is a wonderful instrumental by The Canadian Brass and a vocal by the Strathroy Chorale, among others.

One of my favorite renditions is on the Caroline & Sandy Paton recording "'Twas on a Night Like This" available from Folk-Legacy.

I recorded a version a couple of years back that can be heard or purchased (as a CD of Holiday Songs) from CDBaby.

So what songs on this type of theme are your favorite of the season? Share lyrics, links, or just titles here . . . and maybe sing a few to add some merriment to the holidays.


  1. I just love holiday music. Heck, I love the holidays! It's so festive and full of cheer. I don't know if my favorite carols are "mumming" songs, but I love What Child Is This? and O Holy Night. I think my all time favorite, however has to be Silent Night. To me, that song just sings Christmas.

    I also love the song that you posted, Jean! Excellent choice!

    Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  2. Mumming songs are more light-hearted (Deck the Halls, We wish you a Merry Christmas, etc.) but those that carry all the messages of the season are great!

  3. My kids have always loved "We wish you a Merry Christmas". There is nothing quite like hearing them sing with childish voices as we go caroling through the neighborhood.