The Holly And The Ivy

Composer
trad.
Year of composition
1710
Arranger
Difficulty
Easy (Grades 1-3)
Duration
2 minutes
Genre
Other
Instrumentation
String quartet
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The Holly and the Ivy has been dated in a number of sources to the eighteenth century - supposedly adapted from an English broadside melody from ca. 1710; however, it's reliance on imagery related to holly and ivy - both powerful symbols in the middle ages - suggest that at least the text is in fact much older. The standard version known today was first published in Cecil Sharp's English Folk-Carols (1911), supposedly as sung to him by a Gloucestershire woman, Mrs. Mary Clayton.

The refrain sometimes appended to the carol ("The rising of the sun and the running of the deer, The playing of the merry organ, Sweet singing in the choir.") is almost certainly not authentic, and was most likely written by an eighteenth-century sheet music publisher. Evidence suggests that the first verse of the actual text ("The holly and the ivy, When they are both full grown…") is the proper refrain, and the carol is often sung this way.

This arrangement comes with a Beginners' third violin part, and an optional bass part for use with string orchestra.

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