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The holly and the ivy

Arranger

R. Mather

SATB

Traditional carol collected by Cecil Sharp

Text

The holly and the ivy,
   when they are both full grown,
of all trees that are in the wood,
   the holly bears the crown:

O, the rising of the sun,
And the running of the deer
The playing of the merry organ,
Sweet singing in the choir.

The holly bears a blossom,
   as white as lily flow'r,
and Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ,
   to be our dear Saviour:

The holly bears a berry,
   as red as any blood,
and Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ,
   to do poor sinners good:

The holly bears a prickle,
   As sharp as any thorn,
and Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ,
   on Christmas Day in the morn:

The holly bears a bark,
   as bitter as the gall,
and Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ,
   for to redeem us all:

The holly and the ivy,
   when they are both full grown,
of all trees that are in the wood,
   the holly bears the crown:

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The holly and the ivy - arr Mather

Created 26-Nov-08 Revised 20-Apr-09

The holly and the ivy


The Holly and the Ivy is a traditional Christmas carol, which is among the most lightly Christianised carols of the Yuletide the holly and the ivy being among the most familiar Druidic plants. "Holly and ivy have been the mainstay of Christmas decoration for church use since at least the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, when they are mentioned regularly in churchwardens accounts" (Roud 2004).

The music and most of the text was collected by Cecil Sharp from a woman in Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire. This carol is probably related to an older carol: "The Contest of the Ivy and the Holly", a contest between the traditional emblems of woman and man respectively.

Holly stands in the hall, fair to behold:
Ivy stands without the door, she is full sore a cold.
Nay, ivy, nay, it shall not be I wis;
Let holly have the mastery, as the manner is.

Holly and his merry men, they dance and they sing,
Ivy and her maidens, they weep and they wring.
Nay, ivy, nay, it shall not be I wis;
Let holly have the mastery, as the manner is.

Ivy hath chapped fingers, she caught them from the cold,
So might they all have, aye, that with ivy hold.
Nay, ivy, nay, it shall not be I wis;
Let holly have the mastery, as the manner is.

Holly hath berries red as any rose,
The forester, the hunter, keep them from the does.
Nay, ivy, nay, it shall not be I wis;
Let holly have the mastery, as the manner is.

Ivy hath berries black as any sloe;
There come the owl and eat him as she go.
Nay, ivy, nay, it shall not be I wis;
Let holly have the mastery, as the manner is.

Holly hath birds a fair full flock,
The nightingale, the popinjay, the gentle laverock.
Nay, ivy, nay, it shall not be I wis;
Let holly have the mastery, as the manner is.

Good ivy, what birds hast thou?
None but the owlet that cries how, how.
Nay, ivy, nay, it shall not be I wis;
Let holly have the mastery, as the manner is.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Metasyntactic variable".


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The first Nowell - Sir. John Stainer The Lord at first did Adam make - R. Mather