When we were little, Dad used to dance the baby one round the room on Christmas Day (we were desperately "waiting" for dinner)- and sing-chant: Twelve days a-Christmas, sent my sweetheart Twelve studs a-squealin, Eleven bulls a-bellerin, Ten hares a-runnin, Nine cows a-roarin, Eight maids a-waitin, Seven swans a-swimmin, Six geese a-layin, Five goldy rings, Four colly birds, Three French hens Two turkle-doves- AND A PATTERGE IN A PEAR-BUSH!
On the last line, the child would be swung up into the air with a great shout. I guess this must be a "farm" version of the song. It's described in more detail in the book, Singing Family of the Cumberlands(UK Press)
Mary- Why not, "Brightest and Best?" Beautiful on the dulcimer. Last year I was on a program with The Copper Family, and they were much impressed with it- said the harmonies were very like theirs. Made my day.