Daily Archives: December 7, 2013 12:04 pm

A christmas carol ballet class #7: Fondus – The Holly and the Ivy


It’s Christmas (well, Advent) so have a christmas carol for class on me. Free to use for class, just don’t sell it on.

Holly from my garden in Tooting

Holly from my garden in Tooting

To download the song, either right-click (Mac: ctrl+click) the player above and select ‘save audio as’, or right-click (Mac: ctrl+click) this link and select ‘save link as‘.

I’ve known this tune since I was a child. A book of christmas carols, edited by Elizabeth Poston and Malcolm Williamson, credits it as an English folk song collected by Cecil Sharp (though Elizabeth Poston did the arrangement in this book). In Ancient and Modern, the 2013 edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern, you’ll find the tune under ‘Christingle’, as the melody for the hymn It’s rounded like an orange, words by Basil Bridge. The tune is harmonised by ‘Compilers of Church Hymnary, 4th edition, 2005′. I found it only by accident, since the first line ‘The Holly and the Ivy’ isn’t in the index (because the hymn isn’t there). This is rather like that ballet thing where people only know the music to a variation by the the name of the ballet in which the solo appears, or the person dancing it. As the same solo can turn up in Paquita, Le Corsaire, or Don Quixote, this can be confusing.

Cecil Sharp heard it sung by Mrs Mary Clayton of Chipping Camden in 1909, but there were other tunes before that  (for examples, see here). My favourite, though, is the one sung in the pub at Dungworth, in the video below.