The Aged P

…just toasting and ruminating….

22 December
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The Most Beautiful Of All Carols: “The Holly & The Ivy”

One of the most beautiful and loved of English carols, “The Holly and the Ivy” is said by some to spring from a centuries old tradition in England’s villages where groups of men and women would compete against each other in a midwinter singing contest.

Three plants remained green throughout the winter of an English village – holly, ivy and mistletoe – and so they would be used to garland the church at Christmas time. In the singing contest men would sing the praises of the holly, women would laud the ivy and the good natured rivalry would then be resolved under the mistletoe.

The fact that the carol speaks mainly of holly would suggest it is descended from the song of the men!!!

A timeless, haunting melody that intertwines the symbolism of the nativity with the eternal rhythms of English rural life and the bond of love between woman and man…..

1. The holly and the ivy,
Now both are full well grown.
Of all the trees that are in the wood,
The holly bears the crown.

Chorus
Oh, the rising of the sun,
The running of the deer.
The playing of the merry organ,
Sweet singing in the quire.

2. The holly bears a blossom
As white as lily flower;
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
To be our sweet Savior.

Chorus

3. The holly bears a berry
As red as any blood;
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
To do poor sinners good.

Chorus

4. The holly bears a prickle
As sharp as any thorn;
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
On Christmas day in the morn.

Chorus

5. The holly bears a bark
As bitter as any gall;
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
For to redeem us all.

Chorus

6. The holly and the ivy,
When they are both full grown,4
Of all the trees that are in the wood,
The holly bears the crown.

Chorus

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

Chorus

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