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Origins: Holly and the Ivy

DigiTrad:
THE HOLLY AND THE IVY
THE HOLLY BEARS A BERRY (SANS DAY CAROL)


Related threads:
Lyr Req: A different Holly and Ivy? / Nay Ivy Nay (18)
(origins) Origins: The Holly and the Ivy (36)
The Holly & the Ivy (Wren's Heart) (15)
Lyr Req: Sans Day Carol / The Holly Bears a Berry (31)
(origins) Origin: The 'Holly and Ivy' Girl (John Keegan) (8)
Lyr Req: Sans Day Carol (in Cornish) (9)


GUEST,Mr Flibble 12 Dec 01 - 12:08 PM
Sorcha 12 Dec 01 - 12:17 PM
Sorcha 12 Dec 01 - 12:21 PM
Wolfgang 12 Dec 01 - 12:47 PM
GUEST 12 Dec 01 - 12:50 PM
MMario 12 Dec 01 - 12:57 PM
Malcolm Douglas 12 Dec 01 - 01:07 PM
Ringer 12 Dec 01 - 01:19 PM
Sorcha 12 Dec 01 - 01:21 PM
Wolfgang 12 Dec 01 - 02:11 PM
John MacKenzie 12 Dec 01 - 04:32 PM
GUEST 12 Dec 01 - 04:40 PM
John MacKenzie 12 Dec 01 - 04:51 PM
weepiper 12 Dec 01 - 06:11 PM
Wyrd Sister 13 Dec 01 - 02:23 PM
GUEST,Desdemona 13 Dec 01 - 04:26 PM
Mooh 13 Dec 01 - 05:42 PM
Mr Red 23 Dec 01 - 09:52 AM
CapriUni 23 Dec 01 - 12:59 PM
GUEST,Desdemona 23 Dec 01 - 01:30 PM
CapriUni 23 Dec 01 - 03:04 PM
Haruo 24 Dec 01 - 01:51 AM
Haruo 24 Dec 01 - 01:54 AM
Malcolm Douglas 24 Dec 01 - 10:42 AM
CapriUni 24 Dec 01 - 12:50 PM
Ringer 04 Jan 02 - 04:42 AM
Ned Ludd 04 Jan 02 - 07:07 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 21 Dec 04 - 09:49 PM
Liz the Squeak 22 Dec 04 - 02:13 AM
Tradsinger 22 Dec 04 - 04:51 AM
Keith A of Hertford 22 Dec 04 - 05:08 AM
GUEST,leeneia 22 Dec 04 - 11:16 AM
Les from Hull 22 Dec 04 - 11:37 AM
GUEST,leeneia 22 Dec 04 - 11:38 AM
MMario 22 Dec 04 - 11:46 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 22 Dec 04 - 12:04 PM
MMario 22 Dec 04 - 12:10 PM
Liz the Squeak 22 Dec 04 - 05:49 PM
Steve Parkes 23 Dec 04 - 06:08 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 23 Dec 04 - 01:05 PM
Mrs_Annie 26 Dec 06 - 06:23 AM
McGrath of Harlow 26 Dec 06 - 06:59 AM
Malcolm Douglas 26 Dec 06 - 11:30 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 26 Dec 06 - 01:46 PM
Tradsinger 26 Dec 06 - 03:23 PM
Tradsinger 26 Dec 06 - 03:24 PM
McGrath of Harlow 27 Dec 06 - 02:02 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 27 Dec 06 - 03:24 PM
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Subject: Trad'`Holly and the Ivy'
From: GUEST,Mr Flibble
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 12:08 PM

Does anyone know the original words of the Christmas carol `The holly and the ivy' following the lines in the verse `the rising of the sun And the running of the deer' The well know version completes it with `the playing of the merry organ sweet singing in the choir' However I have heard that there are earlier words than the above. Thanks J


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Subject: RE: Trad'`Holly and the Ivy'
From: Sorcha
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 12:17 PM

Lyrics, sheet music and MIDI are here! I didn't find it in the DT so I'll go get it.....


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Subject: Lyr Add:`Holly and the Ivy'
From: Sorcha
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 12:21 PM

THE HOLLY AND THE IVY

The Holly and the Ivy
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.

O 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 lily flower;
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
To be our sweet Savior.

The holly bears a berry
As red as any blood;
Any 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.

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.

Link to MIDI posted above.......


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Subject: RE: Trad'`Holly and the Ivy'
From: Wolfgang
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 12:47 PM

For the sake of the harvesters:

Holly and Ivy (from DT)

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Trad'`Holly and the Ivy'
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 12:50 PM

Mr Flibble,

This was originally a pagan song.

A quick search produces numerous variants on the verse you mention. Three examples:

Oh, the rising of the sun
And the running of the deer
The shining of the winter stars
As the longer days draw near

Oh, the rising of the Sun
And the running of the deer
The turning of the winter season
Sweet singing all may hear

Oh the rising of the sun
And the running of the deer
The harvest bride shall be brought to bed
And we shall have good cheer

Which is the oldest? No idea, I'm afraid...


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Subject: RE: Trad'`Holly and the Ivy'
From: MMario
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 12:57 PM

Guest - there any verses to go with the choruses?


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Subject: RE: Trad'`Holly and the Ivy'
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 01:07 PM

There is no evidence beyond wishful thinking that this was ever a "pagan" song; the above "variants" are modern inventions, I'm afraid.  The song was first published in a collection in "Joshua Sylvester"'s Christmas Carols (1861); he said that he had got the text from a broadside of c. 1710, which seems to be as far back as the song can be traced.  You can see a couple of early 19th century Birmingham broadside copies at  Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads;  the texts are pretty much the same as those found in oral tradition, all of which, so far as I know, contain that merry organ.  Well, one of the broadsides has a merry groan instead, but the typo doesn't seem to have made it into tradition!

The tune in Sorcha's link is a French one, not traditionally associated with the song.  The midis with the DT file are from tradition, though it isn't made clear which is which, or which belongs with the text given.


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Subject: RE: Trad'`Holly and the Ivy'
From: Ringer
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 01:19 PM

John Kirkpatrick did a couple of programmes on BBC Radio-2 5 or 6 years ago, called "In the Deep Mid-Winter", in which his band, whose name I can't remember now (though I think I have it on tape somewhere) sang a version where the chorus was "playing of the merry accord" rather than "merry organ".


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Subject: RE: Trad'`Holly and the Ivy'
From: Sorcha
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 01:21 PM

(I did a SS and Forum search and the lyrics didn't come up.....sorry!)


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Subject: RE: Trad'`Holly and the Ivy'
From: Wolfgang
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 02:11 PM

Never mind, Sorcha, you have a track record of at least a dozen solved mystery searches with barely enough information to start with to compensate for each of the very rare errors.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Trad'`Holly and the Ivy'
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 04:32 PM

Oh the holly she bears a berry, as blood it is red,
And Mary she bore Jesus who rose from the dead,
And Mary she bore sweet Jesus Christ, our saviour for to be,
And the first tree that's in the greenwood, it was the holly.
Holly, holly.
And the first tree that's in the greenwood it was the holly.
This is my favourite version, as sung by The Watersons on their Frost & Fire album.
Failte....Jock


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Subject: RE: Trad'`Holly and the Ivy'
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 04:40 PM

Jock,

Whilst sharing some similarities, "The Holly Bears a Berry" is not a version of 'The Holly and the Ivy'

It is a completely different song...


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Subject: RE: Trad'`Holly and the Ivy'
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 04:51 PM

Well now I know, sorry folks for showing my ignorance. This oh so thin veneer of sophistication is hard to keep intact...or... Curses foiled again, as the chocolate biscuit said, as it went through the wrapping machine for the second time.*BG* Thanks Guest.
Failte.....Jock


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Subject: RE: Trad'`Holly and the Ivy'
From: weepiper
Date: 12 Dec 01 - 06:11 PM

It's a terrible shame but I grew to hate this song as a kid from having older kids constantly singing it at me...my real name's Holly


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Subject: RE: Trad'`Holly and the Ivy'
From: Wyrd Sister
Date: 13 Dec 01 - 02:23 PM

Please, my preferred version has "Chriss-i-mas Day in the morn"! Perhaps that was originally Christemas, with the 'e' sounded?


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Subject: RE: Trad'`Holly and the Ivy'
From: GUEST,Desdemona
Date: 13 Dec 01 - 04:26 PM

Yes, that's my favourite as well. As with so many of these songs, the original versions are possibly lost to us, but I've always loved the sense of connectedness with the changing seasons that predates ALL organised religion, and the "earthiness" that's found the further back you can manage to dig. The Victorians tended to sanitise everything they touched--nursery rhymes, folk tales, music...even bathrooms!!!


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Subject: RE: Trad'`Holly and the Ivy'
From: Mooh
Date: 13 Dec 01 - 05:42 PM

I grew up with this carol singing "...playing of the merry harp...", I think because it was that way in the Cambridge Hymnal (though now I'm not so sure that was the source). It does add space for a breath, and I grew up in children's and church choirs, so it kinda makes sense. Anyway, the tune is great all on its own, so long as it's not too maudlin or sappy, I like it to bounce along a bit.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Trad'`Holly and the Ivy'
From: Mr Red
Date: 23 Dec 01 - 09:52 AM

At a recent Christmassy Folk evening (Trad folkie since the year dot) Terry Haines sang "the Holly & the Ivy" and insisted we sing "... the Merry or God..." not the upstart version "Merry Organ" which not only makes more sense but is the only chorus some of us know.
I just did a thread search and found this & an older thread from Dec 99 where sophocleese reminded us that one version was collected from Mrs. Clayton at Chipping Campden, Glos. by Cecil Sharpe. I found no direct reference to the "Merry or God" but there was a typo of "Merry Groan".
As I have heard it over the years the "Holly & the Ivy" & "the Holly She Bears a Berry" are interchangeable to the point that the "hybrid T" that Terry sang was both songs not a grafted rootstock.
Now Terry has been Mayor of Gloucester on four occasions and has attended more Carol Services in the line of duty per year than devout athiests like me per lifetime but.....
has anyone else heard of the "Merry or God" chorus??
Is it a Gloztersheer vurzion?


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Subject: RE: Trad'`Holly and the Ivy'
From: CapriUni
Date: 23 Dec 01 - 12:59 PM

I remember a verse that starts with:

"The holly bears a berry
As green as any grass..."

in between the white blossom and the red berry, but I can't remember what was chosen to rhyme with "grass". Do these words ring a bell with anyone here?

Personally, I don't care if the song was "originally" Pagan, or not -- I love the chorus for the counterpoint it provides between the 'heavy' theological ideas, and the simple, everyday pleasures of the season. Nor does it bother me that the pagan versions circulating these days are modern rewrites or wishful thinking. This is folk music after all, and these songs have always changed to fit the needs of those singing them at the time. They belong to all of us -- that's what "Public Domain" means!


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Subject: RE: Trad'`Holly and the Ivy'
From: GUEST,Desdemona
Date: 23 Dec 01 - 01:30 PM

The rhyme for:

"The holly bears a berry as green as any grass"

is usually:

"And Mary bore Jesus who dies on the Cross"


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Subject: RE: Trad'`Holly and the Ivy'
From: CapriUni
Date: 23 Dec 01 - 03:04 PM

Thanks, Desdemona! It was a real mental itch, and no matter how I scratched my head, I couldn't get to it...

So let me just say: "aaaaaahhhhhh"

:-)


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Subject: RE: Trad'`Holly and the Ivy'
From: Haruo
Date: 24 Dec 01 - 01:51 AM

The "Holly bears a berry" stuff is the "Sans Day Carol", from Cornwall. It's in the Oxford Book of Carols (the old one, not the recent one, though it may be there, too). "Sans Day" is a dialectal form meaning "St. They", referring to a semilegendary saint popular in Britanny and Cornwall. The text was originally in English but has been translated into Cornish (and, I believe, an original Cornish verse appended). The William Auld/Margaret Hill Esperanto version is on my website.

The holly-and-ivy imagery does I think reflect prechristian traditions, though none of the carols we now have containing it goes back very far.

Liland


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Subject: RE: Trad'`Holly and the Ivy'
From: Haruo
Date: 24 Dec 01 - 01:54 AM

FWIW, I can't get one (the second) of the two MIDI links in the DT to work. Not sure what the problem is, though the URL referenced, ending as it does HOLLYIVY.2.mid, does look like it's got an extra period in it; but removing it didn't solve the problem (probably have to remove a letter, too, to get it down to 8 digits, n'est-ce pas?).

Liland


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Subject: RE: Trad'`Holly and the Ivy'
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 24 Dec 01 - 10:42 AM

The second midi turns out to have a quite different filename:  Hollyivy+2.mid

Re. Sans Day Carol.  The DT file is here:  THE HOLLY BEARS A BERRY (SANS DAY CAROL)

W. Daniel Watson's translation into Cornish is here:  'MA GRUN WAR 'N GELYNEN

Sans Day Carol was learned (in English) by Watson from Thomas Beard of St. Day; he sang it to the Rev. G.H. Noble, through whom it came to the editors of the Oxford Book of Carols.  They comment, "A version in Cornish was subsequently published... with a fourth stanza, here translated and added to Mr. Beard's English version".  The version in Cornish was Watson's work, but whether or not the additional verse was Cornish to begin with is not made clear; however, the notes to the song (presumably by Inglis Gundry) in Kennedy's Folksongs of Britain and Ireland, simply state "Cornish words by Tyrvab (W. Daniel Watson)", which suggests either that he translated the verse from English, or wrote it himself.

Re. paganism and The Holly and the Ivy; my comments were in answer to "Guest"'s categoric statement This was originally a pagan song, which is incapable of proof, besides being extremely unlikely -there's no evidence that it's more than about 300 years old, and may be more recent.  Obviously some of the imagery is of the sort that lends itself to "pagan" interpretation, and may indeed reflect folk beliefs of considerable age, but there is no reason to conclude from that that there must have been an "original" line that didn't have that apparently Christian organ in it; it's far more likely that the whole thing was an antiquarian composition of the late 17th or early 18th century, though we are never likely to know the truth of it.

So far as the deliberate re-writing of traditional songs is concerned (as opposed to the small, often unconscious changes made through the normal process of transmission), this only becomes a problem when people try to pass their work off as old and time-sanctioned, or when, due to a lack of information, others assume it to be.  We then find people using modern alterations to a song as "evidence" of its history; which is equivalent to saying that, because I wear ear-rings, my grandfather must have.


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Subject: RE: Trad'`Holly and the Ivy'
From: CapriUni
Date: 24 Dec 01 - 12:50 PM

Thanks for the fixing the link, Malcolm! Listening to it now...

As for my comment about "public domain", I didn't mean that it was okay to not give credit where credit is due to individual authors, or to confuse modern with ancient history, but that a version of a song doesn't have to be ancient to be "valid", if that version meets the needs, and strikes a chord (literally?) with its singers and listeners....

I found a really wonderful Irish proverb that deals with this issue here. I also got a chuckle at the end of the page...


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Subject: RE: Trad'`Holly and the Ivy'
From: Ringer
Date: 04 Jan 02 - 04:42 AM

Sorry, my memory was faulty: The programme I refered to above was called "Deep and Crisp and Even" (I knew it was a line from a carol, anyway). The Holly Bears a Berry was performed by The Wassail Band, led by Jane Threlfall. Anyone know anything about either?

Back to the "Deep and Crisp and Even" programme: there's no date on my tape, but there is a 2-minute news on the front. The major stories were a loss of 1500 jobs at Ford's Halewood plant, and Princess Diana had just been accused of being a loose canon for visiting minefields in Africa in her anti personnel-mines campaign. Can anyone date it from that?


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Subject: RE: Trad'`Holly and the Ivy'
From: Ned Ludd
Date: 04 Jan 02 - 07:07 AM

Jane Threlfall has been singing on the Yorkshire folk scene for a while(maybe ten years or so).She sings an eclectic mix of songs, mostly traditional and seems to like early stuff. I think the band was a 'Christmas show' creation based on her normal backing band ,but I'm not sure. As for the carol, I agree with malcolm that It must have been written in medieval style. However, it is one of the few that I like and tolerate,probably due to that.


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Subject: RE: Trad'`Holly and the Ivy'
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 21 Dec 04 - 09:49 PM

The version posted by Sorcha (12 Dec 01) is very like one in the Bodleian Collection, dated 1812-1830 (close to the former, with the old 'f-shaped 's'). Douce adds. 137(63), D. Wrighton, Birmingham. Both have the verse "The holly bears a bark." In the Bodleian broadside, "Now are both well grown," while in Sorcha's they are "full-grown."
See comments on origin in thread 15689, linked above.


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Subject: RE: Trad'`Holly and the Ivy'
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 22 Dec 04 - 02:13 AM

The land mine thing for Diana, Princess of Wales (she never was a princess in her own right) was the year before she died. So if you can remember when that was, just subtract one.

Why is everyone so down on the organ? The Romans had organs before Christ was born, so why can't they be in 'old' songs? They were powered by water and called hydraulis. There is no reason why a carol that mentions Christ shouldn't mention organs.

And the Sans Day carol just means it's come from St Day, a place in Cornwall. Cornwall and France (well, Brittany) have a lot in common, and it got Frenchified there (French pronounciation of Saint being Sont). It's not a version of H&I, but a song in its own right.

It is possible that H&I was based on an older song, some of the contrived rhymes would suggest it... but to be honest, what else rhymes with grass? And Mary bore JC who died on his ass? Fine if he was a stand up comedian, but I think Jackie Mason had already taken that spot. (Do I mean Jackie Mason? My knowledge of American comics is bare.... )

LTS


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Subject: RE: Trad'`Holly and the Ivy'
From: Tradsinger
Date: 22 Dec 04 - 04:51 AM

If I can add to the debate, I think it was Ewan McColl who muddied the waters on this carol by referring to the version collected in 1952 from Peter Jones of Herefordshire and claiming that the singer was singing "The playing of the merrier gods", ergo, clearly a P*g*n survival! This was the time when people were seeing Pagan survivals in all sorts of songs and traditions. What Ewan did not realise is that the local pronuciation of organ sometimes sounds more like er-gon, so that the "the merry er-gon" could sound a lot like "the merrier gods", especially if that's what you want to hear!

I would like to applaud Malcolm Douglas' scholarship on this carol, but I am still mystified by how 'organ' got into the refrain. As I understand it, the organ did not come into church music until later on in the 19th Century and the carol is clearly older than that. The image of the organ and the sweet singing of the choir sounds like a late 19th Century picture onwards to me. Any thoughts on that?

Gwilym


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Subject: RE: Trad'`Holly and the Ivy'
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 22 Dec 04 - 05:08 AM

Also, it does not rhyme or scan. By far the weakest link in a lovely song.


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Subject: RE: Trad'`Holly and the Ivy'
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 22 Dec 04 - 11:16 AM


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Subject: RE: Trad'`Holly and the Ivy'
From: Les from Hull
Date: 22 Dec 04 - 11:37 AM

Church organs are quite old. The oldest in England dates from 1530 and they had to be there for Cromwell to get rid of them in the 1650s.


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Subject: RE: Trad'`Holly and the Ivy'
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 22 Dec 04 - 11:38 AM

http://www.archaeologychannel.org/hydraulisint.html

Has info on the hydraulis.

I got the video to play after a certain amount of to-ing and fro-ing. I would have liked to learn more about how the hydraulis worked and to see fewer pictures of statues.

The link to Curious Facts says that a form of organ entered churches about 900.


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Subject: RE: Trad'`Holly and the Ivy'
From: MMario
Date: 22 Dec 04 - 11:46 AM

in an Inventory made by the Sheriffs of London in 1307 which shows that there were "In the Great Church Two pairs of organs" and, in the quire, "a book for the organs


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Subject: RE: Trad'`Holly and the Ivy'
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 22 Dec 04 - 12:04 PM

Questions-
Organs in European churches before the 16th century, well before 19th- Were the English backward in this respect?

The "merry groan" in the Bodleian broadside, mentioned by Malcolm Douglas and cited again for having the 'holly bears a bark' verse, was not a misprint.- Does it not, of course, refer to the choir?

Has anyone found the ca. 1710 broadside mentioned by Sylvester? Or is the ca.1812 copy at the Bodleian the oldest ?

Sans Day Carol- How did a Cornishman pronounce 'grass'? Perhaps it rhymed with cross? The version in the Oxford Book of Carols was sung by a Mr. W. D. Watson to Rev. G. H. Doble from his hearing of a Mr. Thomas Beard. What was really sung?


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Subject: RE: Trad'`Holly and the Ivy'
From: MMario
Date: 22 Dec 04 - 12:10 PM

As with many things - organs disappeared from English churches under the Commenwealth - and were a bit slow re-appearing.


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Subject: RE: Trad'`Holly and the Ivy'
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 22 Dec 04 - 05:49 PM

Small portative organs were used by many Ecclesiastical establishments from mediaeval times onwards. They were carried on a strap, and played with a simple bellows worked with one hand, whilst the tune was picked out on a 'keyboard' with the other. They were also used by troubadours and the Wandering Minstrel of song fame.

LTS


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Subject: RE: Trad'`Holly and the Ivy'
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 23 Dec 04 - 06:08 AM

A "pair of organs" (MMario, above) was what we call today an organ. I don't know why: maybe it referred to the keyboard and pipes as separate parts, or maybe it was just one of those strange idioms like a "pair of stairs". A "modern" organ may have the keyboard a long way from the sound-producing part, but I'd have expected a mediaeval organ to have them pretty close together, if not integral (as they often are today).

Steve


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Subject: RE: Trad'`Holly and the Ivy'
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 23 Dec 04 - 01:05 PM

Lyr. Add: HOLLY AND THE IVY (Secular)

Some go in for sporting,
and others fancy balls,
Bur we go in for something better
then them all,
We love two farmers daughters
we met down in the dell,
Where the holly and the ivy,
and the snowflakes gently fall.

Chorus:
The snow was falling lightly,
As we wandered through the dell,
And the robins voices calling,
As love tales we did tell
And the holly and the ivy,
It clung from tree to tree,
As we wandered through the valley,
With sweet Bell and Rosy Lee.

Through days and nights we wandered
with those charmers fair and bright,
In happiness we met them,
it filled us with delight,
The brooklets gently rolling
and the birds sang on the tree,
As we were telling tales of love
to Bell and Rosy Lee.

The stars were gently twinkling and
the moon shown up on high,
No sound but of the rustling of the trees
as we passed by,
And with our arms encircled
carelessly did stray,
Until at last they answered yes
then named the happy day.

Bodleian Collection, 19th c., no date or printer named. Harding B11(1506).
I seem to recall this from a book of poetry. Author or tune, anyone?


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Subject: Origins: Holly and the Ivy
From: Mrs_Annie
Date: 26 Dec 06 - 06:23 AM

I only found one set of lyrics for this song in the Digitrad.
seehere
I'm talking here about the old, 'pagan' tune and not the one they sing in church.

In the chorus, the words are 'the playing of the merry organ' which is what I've always known it as.

But on the 'Frost and Fire' tour, we were given a song sheet, and the words were written 'the playing of the merrier gods'.

On listening to some of my CDs, e.g. 'Wassail' it's clear that they are singing this version, and also when the Oysterband sang it on their December tour, that's what they sang.

Anyone got any knowledge of this variation?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Holly and the Ivy
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 26 Dec 06 - 06:59 AM

I'd be very surprised if "merrier gods" wasn't a modern emendation.

In the 1928 Oxford Book of Carols there's a relevant comment with the song. 'The merry organ' occurs in Chaucer in 'The Nonne's Preestes Tale': 'Chauntecleer's crowing had no peer - His voice was merrier than the merry organ - On mass-days that in the churche gon.'


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Subject: RE: Origins: Holly and the Ivy
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 26 Dec 06 - 11:30 AM

You need to look for information in the Forum rather than the DT, which is only updated every few years. There are two earlier discussions, the first of which listed below answers your question ("merry gods" was an eccentricity of Ewan MacColl's). They can be found easily enough via the onsite search engine ("lyrics and knowledge search" at the top of every page, and on the page where you start new threads):

Origins: Holly and the Ivy
Origins: Holly and the Ivy

Five years ago we didn't have such a sophisticated search engine, and it was easy to miss pertinent information. Note, then, that my 2001 comment on earliest (anthologised) publication was wrong; Bruce Olson provided better details in the other thread.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Holly and the Ivy
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 26 Dec 06 - 01:46 PM

refresh


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Subject: RE: Origins: Holly and the Ivy
From: Tradsinger
Date: 26 Dec 06 - 03:23 PM

We in Puzzlejug, along with many others in the folk world, sing this carol to the nice 6/8 tune which seems prevalent in West Gloucestershire. Mike Yates and I recorded a version from the Hill family of Bromsberrow Heath to more or less this tune.

It amuses me then, that Gloucestershire locals refer to this 6/8 tune as a "local" version, as if the Chipping Campden version wasn't.

A musical scholar, looking at all the collected tunes for this carol, would conclude that 6/8 is the 'normal' rhythm for the song, and that the Chipping Campden version, which everyone knows, is therefore "unusual". Try telling that to the world! I think Cecil Sharp did the carol a disservice when publishing it. He should have called it "The Gloucestershire Carol" by analogy with the Susses carol.

I rest my case.

Tradsinger.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Holly and the Ivy
From: Tradsinger
Date: 26 Dec 06 - 03:24 PM

This has been thrashed out in the other thread on this carol. Please refer.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Holly and the Ivy
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 27 Dec 06 - 02:02 PM

Organs modern?

In the 1928 Oxford Book of Carols there's a relevant comment with the song. 'The merry organ' occurs in Chaucer in 'The Nonne's Preestes Tale': 'Chauntecleer's crowing had no peer - His voice was merrier than the merry organ - On mass-days that in the churche gon.'

Geoffrey Chaucer - Died: October 25th 1400.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Holly and the Ivy
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 27 Dec 06 - 03:24 PM

The hydraulis, an organ and probably the first keyboard instrument, was invented in the Third Century BC. by Ctesibius. It was used at the colosseum and other Roman venues.
There is a discussion in one of the Mudcat threads.

Oops! A reference to it in this thread.


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