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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.

3 thought on “A christmas carol ballet class #7: Fondus – The Holly and the Ivy”
  1. This is so beautiful!! I love how you keep “the running o’ the scales” going all through it… is there a transcription and would you be willing to share it if there is?

    1. Hi Ines, all of these carols were rough drafts, and done on-the-fly, but I’ve been wanting to do them properly as a set of piano duets, with transcriptions. I’ll let you know as soon as I’ve started, but it’s one of those side-projects I have to ban myself from doing until I’ve submitted my PhD!

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Jonathan Still, ballet pianist