Ditchling Carol

According to Vic Gammon ("Hail Happy Morn: Two Sussex Church Band Carols in Old Harmony," English Dance and Song, 49, no. 3, pp. 11-13) the setting here was the work of Peter Parsons who died in 1901. Gammon collated the text from several local MSS. Since the release of this recording, we have discovered that the poem is the work of William Robert Spencer (1769-1834), a grandson of the 3rd Duke of Marlborough. He published it in his Poems (1811).

Be merry all, be merry all
     With holly dress the festive hall;
     Prepare the song, the feast, the ball
     To welcome merry Christmas.

And oh remember gentles gay
For you who bask in fortunes ray,
The year is all a holiday
The poor have only Christmas.

When you with velvets mantled o'er
Defy December's tempest roar,
O spare one garment from your store
To clothe the poor at Christmas.

From blazing loads of fuel awhile
Your homes are within summer smile,
O spare one faggot from your pile
To warm the poor at Christmas.

When you the costly banquet deal
To guests who never famine feel,
O spare a morsel from your meal
To feed the poor at Christmas.

When gen'rous wine your care controls
And gives new joy to happier souls,
O spare one goblet from your bowls
To cheer the poor at Christmas.

So shall each note of mirth appear
More sweet to heav'n than praise or prayer,
And angels in their carols there
Shall bless the poor at Christmas.

© Golden Hind Music