Sans Day carol

The holly bears a berry

Music: Trad. arr. Sheena Phillips. Words: Trad. Cornish
SATB, optional guitar and/or treble instrument
performance time approx 2m 40s
Range S: c#' – d'' / A: b – a' / T: f# – d' / B: G – g
Price code: C
Complexity: *

See a perusal copy of the music.
Hear a performance
The Sans Day or St. Day carol is named from the singing of the first three stanzas by a man from the village of St. Day, in Cornwall, England. The village itself was named after the Breton saint St. Day (or St. They), who was once venerated by many people in the area. A fourth verse appeared in a Cornish version of the carol, and was later published (in translation) by OUP alongside the original three.

This simple but engaging strophic arrangement puts the verses in the upper voices, accompanied by a jaunty ostinato in the lower voices. Everyone joins in the choruses.

The carol may be sung a cappella, or accompanied by any treble instrument (taking the accompaniment line given), with or without guitar. A full realization for guitar by Eugene Braig is provided.

The recording is by the Magpie Consort, Ohio, with Eugene Braig (guitar), from the CD All hayle to the days.


Now the holly bears a berry as white as the milk,
And Mary bore Jesus, who was wrapped up in silk.

And Mary bore Jesus Christ, our Saviour for to be,
And the first tree in the greenwood, it was the holly!

Now the holly bears a berry as green as the grass,
And Mary bore Jesus, who died on the cross.

Now the holly bears a berry as black as the coal,
And Mary bore Jesus, who died for us all.

Now the holly bears a berry, as blood is it red,
Then trust we our Saviour, who rose from the dead.

Words and melody from The Oxford Book of Carols © 1964 Oxford University Press. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Purchase – 4023: Sans Day carol

Before you click the "buy" button, please enter the name of your group and select the appropriate size.
Name of group
Size of group
The price depends on the number of singers in your group. This is a single payment for a licence to make as many copies as you need for your group to rehearse and perform the song. You can also re-print - for instance, to replace copies that get lost or worn out.

Copies must not be given, lent, hired or sold to any other group.

Orders are normally despatched within 24 hours - not instantly, because each PDF file is created specially for the purchaser.

Canasg sales are processed via Paypal. Paypal lets you pay with a simple credit or debit card if you don't have a Paypal account. Your Paypal transaction will be in sterling and it will be converted automatically if your credit card draws on a different currency. Paypal passes none of your secure information to Canasg.

If you would like us to send an invoice before you pay, or if you would like your order priced in $US or Euros, then please e-mail your order to us instead of using the form above.

Canasg sells sheet music for choirs …

… in PDF format, delivered by e-mail, with a licence to print as many copies, and as often, as you like. The copies are for the exclusive use of one ensemble, and the licence doesn't let you give, lend, hire or sell them to anybody else. Please read the detail before you buy.

Copying permitted (terms and conditions apply!)

When you buy from us, you can make as many copies as you need of the music, and as often as you need - so you can replace lost or worn copies.

Free perusal copies

You can download a sample PDF from this site, and make a printed copy for your own use. It will be overprinted “sample”. It isn't licensed for rehearsal or performance.

Modest prices

We do not charge a price per copy. You pay according to the size of your group.

Keep in touch

You can bookmark this page to help you find it again. For new releases, seasonal suggestions, and other news, we invite you to opt in to our occasional mailing list. Opting out is easy, whenever you want to.

Keep me posted:

Email Marketing by VerticalResponse

"Liking" Canasg on Facebook is another way to get updates.

You can e-mail us via the link at the foot of this page. We're always interested in your suggestions and your experience with using this web site.

Canasg Choral Music Publishing Canasg Music
publishing refreshingly original choral music

16 Morningside Park,
Edinburgh EH10 5HB, Scotland
Contact us