Aunt Mary

Stephen Hawker (1804 – 1875) Anglican clergyman, poet and antiquarian of Cornwall wrote this song to Modryh Marya or Aunt Mary – the Cornish title for the virgin Mary – mixing old secular winter symbolism of the holly bush with Catholic symbolism of Jesus’ blood.   “Parson Hawker”, as he was known to his parishioners, was something of an eccentric, both in his clothes and his habits. He loved bright colours and dressed in a claret-coloured coat, blue fisherman’s jersey, long sea-boots, a pink brimless hat and a poncho made from a yellow horse blanket. On the cliffs overlooking the Atlantic he built a small hut from driftwood. There he spent many hours writing poems and smoking opium.

Example of lyrics

Now of all the trees that are in the wood
Which do you love the best?
O, the one that is green upon Christmas day
The one with the bleeding breast

The holly with her drops of blood for me
For that is our sweet Aunt Mary’s tree

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Song information

  • Mood:

    Light, rolling

  • Technical:

    6/8 Solo verse and 4 part harmony chorus. 4 Verses

  • In this download:

    full score (pdf)

  • Level:

    ☆☆ Medium

  • Included in book or collection:New Folk Carols »