I still like listening to Christmas music. One of my favorite albums that I listen to every year is Holly & Ivy by Natalie Cole. The jazzy arrangements to traditional carols that accompany Ms. Cole's singing make for a very fun and lively set of music. It also introduced me to a lovely traditional English carol called The Holly and the Ivy.
*Download the album from iTunes
*Purchase the album from Amazon
This ancient carol, like much of the trappings of Christmas, has it's roots in Paganism. The church, however, took the Pagan fertility symbols of holly and ivy, and gave them a Christian meaning. Decorating churches with these items was commonplace during the 15th and 16th centuries. This song has been around for long enough that the date of its origin has been lost, however, the version that we are most familiar with was published by Cecil Sharp in the 19th century.
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 of the choir