Sheet Music: The Holly and the Ivy

TitleThe Holly and the Ivy
ComposerTraditional English
Also attributed toTraditional French
InstrumentationFlute and Piano
KeyG major
Time signature3/4
Tempo108 BPM
Performance time1:05
Difficulty leveleasy
Download printable scorePDF Sheet Music (73 kB) (preview)
Download audio tracksMIDI (change tempo/key) MP3 (917 kB)
Play-along accompanimentMIDI (change tempo/key) MP3 (917 kB)
Date added2009-12-12
Last updated2020-12-22
Download popularity index☆☆☆☆☆ 1.0 (average)
Christmas carols, Traditional/Folk


  • Anna — Flute and piano.

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Saturday 12 December 2009

Tune of the Day: The Holly and the Ivy

Traditional Christmas carol

This is one of numerous carols concerning holly and ivy. Many of the earliest carols reflect an ancient contest of mastery between the two. Possibly of pagan origin, some writers have hypothesized that this conflict has come to symbolize a contest between the masculine (holly) and feminine (ivy) elements in nature. Over the centuries, these distinctions have, to an extent, been blurred. In this particular carol, for instance, the holly is now used to represent various aspects of Christ's life, while the ivy is not discussed at all.

The melody to “The Holly and the Ivy”, which is apparently French in origin, was revamped by folk music collector Cecil J. Sharp in his collection of songs, hymns and carols published in 1911. His version was collected from a woman in Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire.