The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Nay, Nay, Ivy!

Words and Music: English Traditional, Before 1536
Balliol College, Oxford. MS. 354. XVI Century

Compare: Nay, Nay, Ivy ! (Chambers & Sidgwick, 1907), with notes

See Notes under The Holly And The Ivy

Source: Edith Rickert, Ancient English Christmas Carols: 1400-1700 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1914), pp. 265-266.

Nay, nay, Ivy!
    It may not be, ywis,
For Holly must have the mastery
    As the manner is.

1. Holly beareth berries,
    Berries red enough;
The throstlecock, the popinjay
    Dance in every bough.

2. Welaway, sorry Ivy!
    What fowls hast thou
But the sorry owlet
    That singeth "How, how!"?

3. Ivy beareth berries
    As black as any sloe,
Thee cometh the wood culver,
    And feedeth her of tho;1

4. She lifteth up her tail
    And she cakes ere she go;
She would not for an hundred pound
    Serve Holly so.

5. Holly with his merry men
    They can dance in hall;
Ivy and her gentle women
    Cannot dance at all,

6. But like a meiny of bullocks
    In a waterful,
Or on a hot summer's day
    When they be mad all.

7. Holly and his merry men
    Sit in chairs of gold;
Ivy and her gentle women
    Sit without in fold,

8. With a pair of kibed2
    Heels caught with cold;
So would I that every man had
    That with Ivy will hold!

Notes from Rickert:

1. Them. Return

2. With chillblains. Return

Editor's Note:

In Rickert, the burden is treated as the first verse.

Also found in Richard Greene, ed., A Selection of English Carols (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1962), #34B, p. 93. There, the first verse is the first two verses above; the second verse is the third and fourth verses above, etc.

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