The holly berry that burns so red
(Raise high the holly!)
Once was whiter than wheaten bread
(As love is better than folly.)
Whiter than shells along the shore
It blooms on its tree by a stable door.
Villagers come there, half-afraid,
Gifts in their hands for Child and Maid.
And one has nothing of note, so he
Fetches a branch of the holly tree.
Alas, alas, the little Newborn
Has pricked His finger upon a thorn,
Has left His blood on the spiny leaves.
Heavy of heart the holly grieves,
Sees in a terrible vision how
A crown of holly shall bind His brow
When Child is man.
For sorrow and shame
The berries have blushed as red as flame.
Says Mary the Mother,
"Take no blame.
"But be of good cheer as ever you can.
Both foul and fair are the works of man,
"Yet unto man has My Son been lent.
And you, dear tree, are the innocent
"Who weeps for pity what man might do.
So all your thorns are forgiven you."
Now red, rejoicing, the berries shine
On jubilant doors as a Christmas sign
That desolation to joy makes way.
(Hang high the holly!)
Holly is the symbol of Christ's Birthday.
(When love shall vanquish folly.)