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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17 December
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A Carol For Christmas – “I Saw Three Ships”

Such a jolly, boisterous carol – and sung here as, perhaps, it might have been originally intended. We don’t know when it was composed or who wrote it but it first appeared in print in the 17th century and maybe came from the county of Derbyshire in England. Some say it is a variant of “Greensleeves” but others more doubtful. The reference to three ships sailing into Bethlehem is odd but remember that in older times most people portrayed the stories of the Bible against their own local background…..

I saw three ships come sailing in
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
I saw three ships come sailing in
On Christmas Day in the morning.

And what was in those ships all three,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day?
And what was in those ships all three,
On Christmas Day in the morning?

The Virgin Mary and Christ were there,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
The Virgin Mary and Christ were there,
On Christmas Day in the morning.

Pray, wither sailed those ships all three,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
Pray, wither sailed those ships all three,
On Christmas Day in the morning?

O they sailed into Bethlehem,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
O they sailed into Bethlehem,
On Christmas Day in the morning.

And all the bells on earth shall ring,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
And all the bells on earth shall ring,
On Christmas Day in the morning.

And all the Angels in Heaven shall sing,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
And all the Angels in Heaven shall sing,
On Christmas Day in the morning.

And all the souls on earth shall sing,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
And all the souls on earth shall sing,
On Christmas Day in the morning.

Then let us all rejoice again,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
Then let us all rejoice again,
On Christmas Day in the morning.

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