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The Holy and the Ivy
The words of the carol, “The Holy and the Ivy” occur in three broadsides published in Birmingham, England in the early nineteenth century.
An early mention of the carol's title occurs in William Hone's 1823 work Ancient Mysteries Described, which includes "The holly and the ivy, now are both well grown" among an alphabetical list of "Christmas Carols, now annually printed" that were in the author's possession.
The complete words of the carol are found in a book review dating from 1849, in which the reviewer suggested using the text of "The Holly and the Ivy" in place of one of the readings found in the book under discussion.
The words of the carol were included in Sylvester's 1861 collection A Garland of Christmas Carols where it is claimed to originate from "an old broadside, printed a century and a half since" [i.e. around 1711].
The usual melody for the carol was first published in Cecil Sharp's 1911 collection English Folk-Carols. Sharp states that he heard the tune sung by "Mrs. Mary Clayton, at Chipping Campden".