Hark! The Herald Banjo Rings
The Holly Bears a Berry
Performed by Greg Barlow on banjo and Liddy Barlow on tin whistle
Words and music: Traditional English carol
"The Holly Bear a Berry" is also known as the "Sans Day Carol" or "St. Day Carol" because the melody and first three verses were collected by W.D. Watson from Thomas Beard in the village of St. Day (also known as Sans Day or St. They) in the parish of Gwennap, Cornwall. Like "The Holly and the Ivy" this carol has pagan origins. This song was recorded for Hark! 2010. Liddy plays the tin whistle, and Greg plays the banjo.
Now the holly bears a berry as white as the milk,
And Mary bore Jesus, all wrapped up in silk:
And Mary bore Jesus Christ our Saviour for to be,
And the first tree in the greenwood, it was the holly.
And the first tree in the greenwood, it was the holly!
Now the holly bears a berry as green as the grass,
And Mary bore Jesus, who died on the cross:
Now the holly bears a berry as black as the coal,
And Mary bore Jesus, who died for us all:
Now the holly bears a berry, as blood is it red,
Then trust we our Saviour, who rose from the dead:
Sources and more information
- Oxford Book of Carols, 1964.
- 50 Three-Chord Christmas Songs for Guitar, Banjo, and Uke, Larry McCabe, Mel Bay Publications, 2009.
- Hymns and Carols of Christmas