John Speller's Web Pages -- Christmas Carols
Hunting the Wren (Scotland
Hunting the Wren, a custom that was probably of pre-Christian origins, was formerly a popular pastime on the Second Day of Christmas, the Feast of St. Stephen. A band of youths known as Wren Boys would chase, capture and kill a wren, mount it on a branch and carry it round the village, singing carols and collecting pennies. The money would be used to pay for a dance at which the wren would be mounted on a pole bedecked with ribbons, maypole style, and couples would dance round it. Today the custom has pretty much died out except in parts of the south of Ireland, where rather than killing a real wren the grownups hide a fake one and the children search out.

Few Scottish carols have survived, and I have been unable to find a tune for this one:

The Cutty Wren

"Will ye go to the wood?" quo' Fozie Mozie;
"Will ye go to the wood?" quo' Johnie Rednosie;
"Will ye go to the wood?" quo' Foslin 'ene;
"Will ye go to the wood?" quo' brither and kin.

"What to do there?" quo' Fozie Mozie;
What to do there?" quo' Johnie Rednosie;
"What to do there?" quo' "Foslin 'ene;
"What to do there?" quo' brither and kin.

"To slay the wren," quo' Fozie Mozie;
"To slay the wren," quo' Johnie Rednosie;
"To slay the wren," quo' Foslin 'ene;
"To slay the wren,' quo' brither and kin.

"What way will ye get her hame?" quo' Fozie Mozie;
"What way will ye get her hame?" quo' Johnie Rednosie;
"What way will ye get her hame?" quo' Foslin 'ene;
"What way will ye get her hame?" quo' brither and kin.

"We'11 hire carts and horse," quo' Fozie Mozie;
"We'll hire carts and horse," quo' Johnie Rednosie;
"We '11 hire carts and horse," quo' Foslin 'ene;
"We '11 hire carts and horse," quo' brither and kin.

"What way will ye get her in?" quo' Fozie Mozie;
"What way will ye get her in?" quo' Johnie Rednosie;
"What way will ye get her in?" quo' Foslin 'ene;
"What way will ye get her in?" quo' brither and kin.

"We'll drive down the door-cheeks," quo' Fozie Mozie;
"We'll drive down the door-cheeks," quo' Johnie Rednosie;
"We '11 drive down the door-cheeks," quo' Foslin 'ene;
"We '11 drive down the door-cheeks," quo' brither and kin.

"I'11 hae a wing," quo' Fozie Mozie;
"I'II hae anither," quo' Johnie Rednosie;
"I'11 hae a leg," quo' Foslin 'ene;
"And I'11 hae anither," quo' brither and kin.

The Common Wren, Britain's smallest bird, and formerly the object of a cruel Christmas sport
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