What are the lyrics to The Holly and The Ivy?

Did you know the origins of popular Christmas carol 'The Holly and the Ivy' date back to medieval times? Here are the words to the much-loved festive tune

what are the words to the holly and the ivy

When was ‘The Holly and The Ivy’ written?

The popular Christmas carol ‘The Holly and The Ivy’ first appeared in print in the early 19th century, when it was mentioned in William Hone’s 1823 book,  Ancient Mysteries Described. But its origins lie much longer ago. People have been decorating their houses with holly and ivy since the medieval times and it has long been associated with the celebration of the winter solstice, as well as Christmas.

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What does the holly and the ivy represent in the carol?

In Christian culture, the thorns of the holly represent the thorny crown worn by Jesus, while the red berries symbolise the drops of blood Jesus shed for humankind. The ivy is said to represent the Virgin Mary.

The holly and the ivy have also been linked together in Pagan culture with the holly (male) and ivy (female) being burnt together at the pagan festival of Beltane. It is also believed the holly protects the home from evil spirits.

What are the lyrics to The Holly and The Ivy?

1

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.

2

The holly bears a blossom,
As white as the lily flower,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ,
To be our sweet Saviour.
The rising of the sun
And the running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ,
Sweet singing in the choir.

3

The holly bears a berry,
As red as any blood,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
For to do us sinners good.
The rising of the sun
And the running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ,
Sweet singing in the choir.

4

The holly bears a prickle,
As sharp as any thorn,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
On Christmas Day in the morn.
The rising of the sun
And the running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ,
Sweet singing in the choir.

5
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The holly bears a bark,
As bitter as any gall,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
For to redeem us all.
The rising of the sun
And the running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ,
Sweet singing in the choir.

6

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.