The Christmas Play - Bampton Mummers 1847

J.A.Giles (1848)


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Context:
Location: Bampton, Oxfordhire, England (SP3103)
Year: Perf. 1847
Time of Occurrence: Christmas
Collective Name: Mummers

Source:

J.A.Giles
A History of the Parish and Town of Bampton (2nd ed.)
Oxford, The Author, 1848, pp.55-60, 176-178


Cast: (Click on any name for the character name index.)
Text:

{A CHRISTMAS MUMMERY.}

Father Christmas

"Here comes I old Father Christmas; welcome, or welcome not,"
"I hope old Father Christmas will never be forgot."
There is time for work, and there is a time for play.
A time for to be melancholy, and for to be gay:
A time for to be thrifty and a time for to be free:
But, sure enough, at Christmas tide we all may jovial be:
This is the time when Christ did come that we might happy be.
So listen, all ye gentles, to what we now shall say,
And take in kindness what we do to celebrate this day.
St. George, the Doctor and the Turk are here together met;
The Doctor has his physic and the knights' swords are sharp set:
The one will kill the other and the Doctor raise him up,
And then we all shall happy be with his Christmas cup.
And Robin Hood and little John will pass the beer-pot round,
For two more jolly chaps on earth there never yet were found.
So ladies and gentlemen we pray you give good cheer
To Old Father Christmas, for he comes but once a year!

Saint George

"Here comes I, Saint George the knight,"
Who with the pagans used to fight.
And with my sword and spear and valiant shield
Can make a host of adversaries yield,
I swear 'tis true, for though I am so pliant,
In battle I'm as stout as any giant,
And though I am so thin, can eat a calf,
And yet not fill my belly - no, not half.
Whoever doubts my word, just let him come,
I'll slice him till he's blind and deaf and dumb.

The Turkish Knight

"Here comes I the Turkish knight,"
"Come from Turkish lands to fight,"
With brave Saint George if he is here:
And if his heart don't quake with fear,
I'll cut it out with my sharp sword,
And eat it, - that I will upon my word.
So let him come, if he will be so bold,
And if his blood is hot, I'll make it cold.

{- They fight - the Turkish knight falls -}

Saint George

Is there no doctor in the land?

Doctor

There is a doctor in the land,
Skilful both in head and hand,
For if a man has got a cough,
I'll cure him without cutting his head off;
And if a man has lost his head,
I'll put a Donkey's on instead,
And, if he will but pay me well,
The secret I will never tell,
But, if he will not pay, I'll leave the sinner
To eat a bunch of thistles for his dinner.

Robin Hood

And here comes I, bold Robin Hood,
With bended bow of yew-tree wood,
And arrows sharp, and for my quiver
I choose an alderman's fat liver.
Under the green wood tree,
Merrily come with me,
To hunt the deer with horn and hound,
We take our joyous way,
And when we've done, with nut-brown ale
To cheer the hunting day,
With Little John and friar Tuck,
We roast and eat the slaughter'd buck.

Little John

And here comes I, brave Little John.
With quarter-staff I play the don,
I'm not the man to cheat or cozen
But knock men's brains out by the dozen -
But hold, my jolly comrades, by your leave,
All here are friends and this is Christmas eve,
Put up your swords, brave knights, and, Robin Hood,
Slacken your bended-bow of yew-tree wood,
And Doctor, no more physic, for to-day
I hope will prove a feast and not a fray,
And that all who are here, and friar Tuck,
Who's ill in bed at home, may have good luck
So, if what we have said should please this quorum,
We'll drink to all their honours in a jorum!


Notes:

Giles' Title & Notes:

"XXVIII. The Christmas Play, a Mummery performed by the Mummers of Bampton on Christmas-Eve, A.D.1847.

N.B. The following verses are principally the author's own composition being written in imitation of what he remembers to have heard in Somersetshire many years ago, when Mumming and many other old customs were still in use. The lines which are enclosed between inverted commas are the only ones which he remembers as thoroughly genuine."


File History:
30th Dec.1999 - Entered by Peter Millington

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