I’ve had a song running tiresomely and unseasonably through my mind over the last few days, a song I don’t think I have heard or sung for sixty years or more, not in fact since we learnt to sing it when I was at prep school.
The snatch I remember starts out as Good King Wenceslas but then morphs into something else.
"Good King Wenceslas looked out," sings we with splendid power:
Several neighbours looked out too, to see what all the row were!
We sings forte (sounded like a hundred),
Even in the soft bits how we thundered!
With the modern resources of Google and YouTube I was able to track it down. It proves to be a comic song entitled ‘The Carol Singers’, by T. C. Sterndale Bennett and Charles Haynes.
As you can see, it is written in a style that Jack Windsor Lewis calls ‘linguistic slumming’, with non-standard -s endings on non-third-person-singular verbs, were for was, ˈhʌndə(r)d for hundred and the like.
…And some rather tortured rhymes. There is no w in power ˈpaʊə when spoken rather than sung. This is for the same reason as applies to the lesser of two weevils joke (blog, 31 Aug 2010), and no matter how much you resist the tendency to smooth aʊə towards aə ~ aː, it can never really rhyme with row were ˈraʊ wɜː. Note that were has to take its strong form wɜː here, with the long/strong vowel, not just because it is sung but also because it is ‘stranded’ (followed by a syntactic gap — see blog, 28 May 2008).