Hark! The Herald Banjo Rings
"The Holly and the Ivy" is one of many carols that use the imagery of holly and ivy. Of pagan origin, most of these carols are about the rivalry between male (ivy) and female (holly) elements in nature. Of course, in this carol, the ivy gets pretty short shrift. For a long time growing up, I thought the chorus said "the playing of the merrior and sweet singing in the choir." I just assumed the merrior was some sort of instrument. In any case, this is another fun carol that works well on the banjo. I used both the words and music from the Oxford Book of Carols; other versions exist with slightly different lyrics or a different melody.
The Holly and the Ivy
Words: Traditional, collected by Cecil Sharp and published in English Folk-Carols, 1911.
Music: Traditional, collected by Cecil Sharp and published in English Folk-Carols, 1911.
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:
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 the lily flower,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ, To be our sweet Savior:
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: