John Speller's Web Pages Twelfth Night Song

John Speller's Web Pages - Christmas

Twelfth Night Song
It is surprising that it was the early nineteenth century before Herrick's "Twelfth Night Song" was set to music. The Twelfth Night Feast, marking the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas, featured cakes in which a bean and a pea were hidden. The recipient of the slice containing the bean was elected King of the Feast, and the recipient of the slice containing the pea was elected Queen. Given crowns to wear they presided over the festivities, which included the consumption of alcohol in the form of ale, and a wassail bowl filled with lambswool, a concoction of ale, sugar and apples. The carol has been slightly simplified in this edition.

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The Rev. Robert Herrick, M.A. (1591-1674)
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