The Craven Churn-Supper Song

Melody -

Traditional ballad from Craven

God rest you, merry gentlemen!
Be not moved at my strain,
For nothing study shall my brain,
But for to make you laugh:
For I came here to this feast,
For to laugh, carouse, and jest,
And welcome shall be every guest,
To take his cup and quaff.
Be frolicsome, every one,
Melancholy none;
Drink about!
See it out,
|: And then we'll all go home! :|

2. This ale it is a gallant thing,
It cheers the spirits of a king;
It makes a dumb man strive to sing,
Aye, and a beggar play!
A cripple that is lame and halt,
And scarce a mile a day can walk,
When he feels the juice of malt,
Will throw his crutch away.

3. 'Twill make the parson forget his men, -
'Twill make his clerk forget his pen;
'Twill turn a tailor's giddy brain,
And make him break his wand,
The blacksmith loves it as his life, -
It makes the tinkler bang his wife, -
Aye, and the butcher seek his knife
When he has it in his hand!

4. So now to conclude, my merry boys, all,
Let's with strong liquor take a fall,
Although the weakest goes to the wall,
The best is but a play!
For water it concludes in noise,
Good ale will cheer our hearts, brave boys;
Then put it round with a cheerful voice,
We meet not every day.

In some of the more remote dales of Craven it was customary at the close of the hay-harvest for the farmers to give an entertainment to their men; this is called the churn supper.
At these churn-suppers the masters and their families attend the entertainment, and share in the general mirth. The men mask themselves, and dress in a grotesque manner, and are allowed the privilege of playing harmless practical jokes on their employers. In the third verse there seems to be an allusion to the clergyman's taking tithe in kind, on which occasions he is generally accompanied by two or three men, and the parish clerk.

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