The words of the carol occur in three broadsides published in Birmingham in the early nineteenth century.
An early mention of the carol’s title occurs in William Hone’s 1823 work Ancient Mysteries Described, which includes “The holly and the ivy, now are both well grown” among an alphabetical list of “Christmas Carols, now annually printed” that were in the author’s possession.
The complete words of the carol are found in a book review dating from 1849, in which the reviewer suggested using the text of “The Holly and the Ivy” in place of one of the readings found in the book under discussion. The anonymous reviewer introduced the lyrics of carol thus:
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