We Wish You a Merry Christmas has long been one of my favorite holiday songs. It’s just so much fun to sing. I remember as a kid in church singing it, and all the kids were really leaning into the “sh” in wish and “s” in Christmas, “We wisssshhhh you a merry Chrisssstmas!” We were over-exaggerating it, but that’s the genius of the song, the way the music and lyrics combine to give it an irresistible pulse. It may not be dance music, but it’s hard to sit still. You just want to sway or at least bob your head.
The assonance coming at the end of syllables is a nice touch. Alliteration is common and easy (Not that there’s anything wrong with it). Most of us are conscious of the way words begin. We don’t pay as much attention to their middles. It’s especially pleasing when letters in the middle of words create a poetic effect.
Plus, the poetry enhances the music. When learning music, you spend a lot of time on attacks (the beginning of notes). It’s a common problem for amateur musicians to not hold notes for their full value. Once the attack has passed, they seemingly lose interest. But wish and Christ(mas) aren’t going to get short changed in this song.
If it’s true that, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear,” then We Wish You a Merry Christmas is the perfect song for it. Turn it up and sing along.