The Holly and the Ivy

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The Holly and the Ivy

3.00

Instant Sheet Music

This is a PDF download for the sheet music "The Holly and the Ivy," arranged for solo piano. This is a digital file you print from home.

Performance notes: although this traditional carol is typically played with a cheerful, upbeat sound, that belies the true meaning of the text. As I read through the words, I was moved by the solemn nature of the subjects presented. In Christ’s birth, there were so many foreshadows of the life and suffering that He was going to experience. I was especially moved by the line: The holly bears a berry, / As red as any blood, / And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ / For to do poor sinners good.

Therefore, to reflect the solemnity of this lyric, I’ve tried to communicate feelings of mystery, suffering and dread. A mesmerizing two-note, ostinato pattern permeates the entire arrangement, giving an almost trance-like effect and effectively contrasting with the lyrical melody. Don’t let the pattern overwhelm or dominate. It must be subservient to the melody, gently moving everything forward.

At the end of the second stanza, take your time in bars 54-58; the rolled chords give a welcome relief from the slightly chaotic blend of all the previous movement. This simple phrase helps communicate my favorite words of the song: For to do poor sinners good.

Finally, close the piece with great sensitivity. Let the music slowly rise then fall in the final four bars, and let the final chord tones ring out hinting at that “Picardy third” resolution.

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