"The Holly and the Ivy" is an English traditional Christmas carol. Holly and ivy have been a mainstay of English Christmas decoration for church use since at least the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, when they were mentioned regularly in churchwardens’ accounts (Roud 2004). Holly and ivy also figure in the lyrics of the "Sans Day Carol". The music and most of the text was first published by Cecil Sharp. Sir Henry Walford Davies wrote a popular choral arrangement that is often performed at the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols and by choirs around the world." (Wikipedia)
Listen to the King's College Cambridge 2008 performance of the carol :
Holly and ivy in the snow in Elmstead Woods.
Here are the lyrics :
- The holly and the ivy, when they are both full grown,
- Of all the trees that are in the wood, the holly bears the crown.
- Oh, 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 flower,
- And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ to be our sweet 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 any gall,
- And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ for to redeem us all.
Merry Christmas, everyone !