Tune of the Day: The Holly and the Ivy
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.