Christmas Alphabet : H for The Holly & The Ivy – Kate Rusby

There is a power beyond all analysis in the Christmas Carol – especially those which emerged from the folkloric tradition of England’s rural heartlands.

I could give you a learned analysis of, ‘The Holly and the Ivy’ noting it is numbered 514 in the Roud Folk Song Index and waxing lyrical on its symbolism and use of Christian iconography.

Somehow, as soon as Kate Rusty starts to sing all that appears superfluous.

For Kate is for my money the finest English Folk Singer since Sandy Denny and you would have to be made of stone not to be moved by the tender beauty of her voice.

Hearing her singing such a song I feel as if I had wandered from the snow into a Yorkshire Romanesque church.

Resting in a time worn pew, hunched against the draughts all around I am startled by the emerging sound of a rustic band straight out of a Thomas Hardy novel.

As the sound swells and soars to the rafters my eyes sting with tears as Kate in a voice at once wholly of the people and wholly unique brings all the moods and colours of the carol to blood beating life.

In Kate’s vocal you can feel in your heart and soul the rising of the sun and the quick running of the deer.

Oh such sweet singing in the choir!

The revelation of the mythical, mystical, significance of the landscape of the natural world is one of the glories of Folk Song.

Intertwined in Nature and our lives are the blossom, the Berry and the prickle of the thorn.

Even as we dance to the merry Organ we know (we know) that no life escapes bitter gall and no life needs not redemption.

Sinners need a Saviour.

Of all the trees that are in the wood the Holly bears the crown.

The Holly bears the crown.

45 thoughts on “Christmas Alphabet : H for The Holly & The Ivy – Kate Rusby

  1. Ah, the voice of an angel has Kate. She takes us there and links us up with something ancient as you say Thom. I think that must be Under the Greenwood Tree you have in mind ? Such a true comment about the “mythical, mystical, significance of the landscape”, which even under our homes and cities still sings its song.

    Liked by 1 person

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