> Folk Music > Songs > Drive the Cold Winter Away / All Hail to the Days / In Praise of Christmas

Drive the Cold Winter Away / All Hail to the Days / In Praise of Christmas

[ Roud V9375 ; Ballad Index Log293 ; DT ALLHAIL ; Mudcat 13771 ; trad.]

The Druids played To Drive the Cold Winter Away in 1972 on their Argo album Pastime With Good Company. They noted:

To Drive the Cold Winter Away originated for us as a song from Cappell’s Popular Music of the Olden Time as did Three Merry Men of Kent.

John Roberts, Tony Barrand, Fred Breunig, Steve Woodruff sang The Praise of Christmas on their 1981 album The Second Nowell. As Nowell Sing We Clear they also sang it on their 1988 album Nowell Sing We Four. They noted:

From The Oxford Book of Carols, which we heartily recommend to all as the best and single most comprehensive source of carols of all kinds.

The York Waites sang Drive the Cold Winter Away in 1992 on their Saydisc album Old Christmas Return’d. They noted:

Many items [in this Christmas collection], for example Drive the Cold Winter Away, The Old Year Now Away Is Fled, The Gloucestershire Wassail have pagan or secular origins, and are more concerned with the Twelve Days holiday and the welcome to the New Year. This was traditionally the main holiday of the year when most agricultural activities were dormant, and a time for masques, revels and general merriment.

Barry Phillips played To Drive the Cold Winter Away on the cello in 2000 on Jessica Radcliffe, Lisa Ekström and Martin Simpson’s album celebrating the Winter Solstice, Beautiful Darkness.

The New Scorpion Band sang All Hayle to the Dayes on their 2001 album of traditional and early music for the Christmas Season, The Carnal and the Crane. They noted:

The melody of this spirited song of seasonal merrymaking is first found in John Playford’s English Dancing Master of 1651, with the title Drive the Cold Winter Away. As a dance it was evidently popular, as it appears in all subsequent editions until 1728. Playford was a committed Royalist who had already been in trouble with the authorities for printing subversive material, and the inclusion of this tune may have been intended as a tacit snub to the Puritan divines who had abolished the festival o f Christmas in 1647. The text comes from a broadside ballad of the late 17th century in the Pepys collection, entitled “A pleasant countrey new Ditty, merrily shewing how to Drive the cold Winter away”. The broadside has twelve verses, of which we have selected five. Underlining the Royalist connection, a slightly different five-verse text also appear in Pills to Purge Melancholy of 1719, published by Thomas D’Urfey, dramatist, popular poet and drinking companion of Charles II.

We use a 17th century instrumentation for this carol—bass Overton whistle, baroque violin, baroque guitar, baroque flute, bassoon and vocals.

Coope Boyes & Simpson, Fi Fraser, Jo Freya and Georgina Boyes sang Drive the Cold Winter Away in 2003 on their No Masters album Fire and Sleet and Candlelight. And Coope, Simpson, Fraser & Freya played the tune In Praise of Christmas in 2014 on their No Masters album Hark Hark. They noted on the first album:

This “Song in Praise of Christmas”—about the round of neighbourly visits and customs of wintertime—was printed by Henry Gosson in the early 1600s. His shop was on London Bridge and he also did quite a bit of work for a popular playwright called William Shakespeare. A sort of Elizabethan White Christmas in its evocative images of the season, we’ve shortened and adapted this version from the much longer two section form printed in William Chappell’s Popular Music of the Olden Time (1859).

Dan Walsh sang Drive the Cold Winter Away on his 2009 album Tomorrow’s Still to Come.

The Owl Service sang Drive the Cold Winter Away on their 2011 album The Pattern Beneath the Plough .

Nadia Birkenstock, Ryan Murphy, Jürgen Treyz, and Gudrun Walther played In Praise of Christmas on their 2012 album Celtic Christmas.

GreenMatthews sang Drive the Cold Winter Away on their 2015 album A Brief History of Christmas.

Kate Rusby sang Cold Winter on her 2015 album The Frost Is All Over.

Megson sang All Hail to the Days on their 2019 album A Yuletide Carol.

Stick in the Wheel sang Drive the Cold Winter Away on their 2019 mixtape Against the Loathsome Beyond and on their 2020 album Hold Fast.

The Wilderness Yet sang Drive the Cold Winter Away on their 2021 album Turn the Year Round. They noted:

An Elizabethan Christmas carol, this first appeared as a broadside in c. 1625. It is sung to the tune When Phoebus Did Rest, under which it is printed in Playford’s The English Dancing Master.


John Roberts and Tony Barrand sing The Praise of Christmas

All hail to the days that merit more praise
Than all of the rest of the year,
And welcome the nights that double delights,
As well for the poor as the peer.
Good fortune attend each merry man’s friend
That doth but the best that he may,
Forgetting old wrongs, with carols and songs,
To drive the cold winter away.

’Tis ill for a mind, to anger inclined,
To think of small injuries now.
If wrath be to seek, do not lend her thy cheek,
Nor let her inhabit thy brow.
Cross out of thy books malevolent looks,
Both beauty and youth’s decay,
And wholly consort, with mirth and with sport,
To drive the cold winter away.

This time of the year is spent in good cheer,
When neighbors together do meet,
To sit by the fire, in friendly desire,
Each other in love to greet.
Old grudges, forgot, are put in the pot,
All sorrows aside they lay,
The old and the young doth carol this song,
To drive the cold winter away.

When Christmas’s tide comes in like a bride,
With holly and ivy clad,
Twelve days of the year, much mirth and good cheer
In every household is had.
The country guise is then to devise
Some gambols of Christmas play,
Whereat the young men do the best that they can,
To drive the cold winter away.