We had another lovely Big Fat Christmas Music Party on Monday. We finished with everyone singing ‘The Holly and the Ivy’, in which each verse was sung as a solo by a different student. Five in all. I’m so glad have so many enthusiastic singers in my ranks!
Here is the sheet with tuneline and chords.
For the solos though, I didn’t play the chords, I just used bare 5ths (C and G) as a long drone underneath. It complemented their young voices well, and was a contrast from the full-chorded and raucous chorus, where everyone piled in and sang. The verse and chorus have exactly the same chords and tune so a bit of variation is good, and it sounded lovely. I would definitely recommend playing it this way.
This tune was noted down by Cecil Sharpe in 1909, from a folk singer in the Cotswolds. Another tune for the same carol was recorded from a folk singer in Herefordshire in the 1950s. Steeleye Span recorded it and made it well known in the 70s. It’s a beautifully lyrical alternative. Here are the dots-
The Holly and the Ivy – Herefordshire Tune
Here’s a ukulele tutorial if you would like to hear how it sounds, or indeed learn it on the ukulele!
Thanks to A Folk Song a Week blog and Wikipedia for information.