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The Cherry Tree Carol -- Traditional

Guest poem sent in by Vivian
(Poem #1578) The Cherry Tree Carol
 When Joseph was an old man, an old man was he,
 He married Virgin Mary, the queen of Galilee,
 He married Virgin Mary, the queen of Galilee.

 Joseph and Mary walked through an orchard green,
 There were berries and cherries as thick as might be seen
 There were berries and cherries as thick as might be seen

 And Mary spoke to Joseph, so meek and so mild,
 "Joseph gather me some cherries, for I am with child,
 Joseph gather me some cherries, for I am with child."

 And Joseph flew in anger, in anger flew he,
 "Let the father of the baby gather cherries for thee,
 Let the father of the baby gather cherries for thee."

 Then up spoke baby Jesus from in Mary's womb,
 "Bend down the tallest tree that my mother might have some,
 Bend down the tallest tree that my mother might have some."

 And bent down the tallest branch, till it touched Mary's hand,
 Cried she, "Oh look thou Joseph I have cherries by command,"
 Cried she, "Oh look thou Joseph I have cherries by command."
-- Traditional
   (English folk ballad)

One needn't be Christian to love this -- I love it because of the human
immediacy of a miracle in the prosaic setting of an uncomfortable journey
and because of the speaking parts for the exasperated Joseph, for the
pregnant Mary with her craving for fruit and for the unborn but imperious
baby Jesus. It derives from the Pseudo-Matthew gospel, and in medieval times
was dramatized in folk plays and mystery pageants. From "British Ballads and
Folk Songs from the Joan Baez  Songbook." Baez sings it on  the disc "Joan
Baez, Volume 2," and the melody is haunting.

- Vivian Eden

167 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Richard Goodman said...

Nice seasonal selection. I perform this variant:

When Joseph was an old man, an old man was he,
He courted sweet Mary, the queen of Galilee,
He courted sweet Mary, the queen of Galilee.

When Joseph and Mary were walking one day,
"Here are apples and cherries," Mary did say,
"Here are apples and cherries," Mary did say.

Then Mary said to Joseph, so meek and so mild,
"Joseph gather me some cherries, for I am with child,
Joseph gather me some cherries, for I am with child."

Then Joseph flew in anger, in anger flew he,
"Let the father of the baby gather cherries for thee,
Let the father of the baby gather cherries for thee."

Then Jesus spoke a few words, a few words spoke he,
"Give my mother some cherries, bow down you cherry tree;
Give my mother some cherries, bow down you cherry tree.

"Bow down, you cherry tree, bow down to the ground."
Then Mary gathered cherries, while Joseph stood around,
Then Mary gathered cherries, while Joseph stood around.

Then Joseph took Mary all on his right knee,
crying, "What have I done, Lord, have mercy on me;
What have I done, Lord, have mercy on me!"

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