Make We Merry Both More and Less

DESCRIPTION: "Make we mery bothe more and lasse, For now is the time of Christimas." All who come to the feast are enjoined to bring some entertainment: A song, a sport, etc. "If he say he can nought do... But to the stokkes then let him go."
AUTHOR: unknown (contemporary tune by Martin Shaw)
EARLIEST DATE: c. 1502 (Hill MS., Balliol Coll. Oxf. 354)
KEYWORDS: carol Christmas food party nonballad
FOUND IN: Britain(England)
REFERENCES (7 citations):
OBC 172, "Make We Merry" (1 text, 1 tune)
Stevick-100MEL 98, "(Make We Myrie Bothe More and Lasse)" (1 text)
Rickert, pp. 220-221, "Make we merry, both more and less" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: Roman Dyboski, _Songs, Carols, and Other Miscellaneous Poems from the Balliol Ms. 354, Richard Hill's Commonplace Book_, Kegan Paul, 1907 (there are now multiple print-on-demand reprints), #27, p. 15, "(Make we mery, bothe more & lasse)" (1 text)
Richard Greene, editor, _A Selection of English Carols_, Clarendon Medieval and Tudor Series, Oxford/Clarendon Press, 1962, #5, pp. 58-59, "(Make we mery, bothe more and lasse)" (1 text)
Brown/Robbins, _Index of Middle English Verse_, #1866
Digital Index of Middle English Verse, #3059

cf. "Now let us sing, both more & lesse" (lyric on the nativity, from Richard Hill's manuscript; see Roman Dyboski, _Songs, Carols, and Other Miscellaneous Poems from the Balliol Ms. 354, Richard Hill's Commonplace Book_, #6, p. 3-4)
NOTES [139 words]: Very possibly not traditional, but widely quoted -- and many of the pieces in the Richard Hill manuscript *are* traditional, so I included it.
According to the notes on p. 189 of Greene, "This carol is written as if to be lefdby a master of festivities or 'Lord of Misrule' who has the power to 'punish'."
The Hill version ends with a Latin tag, "In die dominica prima post festum sancti Michaelis archangeli anno regis henrici septimi post conquestum anglie sextodecimo illa res erat scripta primo." Henry VII invaded and conquered England in 1485, and reigned until 1509; his sixteenth year would presumably be 1501 or 1502.
A facsimile of the Hill manuscript is now available at the Balliol Library manuscripts resource at the Bodleian web site; go to and scroll down to MS. 354. - RBW
Last updated in version 4.1
File: OBC172

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