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Dgreetings » Gift Ideas » Christmas Gifts » Carols » The Cherry Tree Carol

The Cherry Tree Carol

One of the only songs that can be called both a Christmas Carol and one of the Child ballads (No. 54), The Cherry tree carol is simply delightful. The song is said to be centuries old, apparently it was sung at the Feast of Corpus Christi in the early 15 th century. What we know of the carol today is reportedly a combination of three separate carols which over the centuries merged together into one. It is also one of the more interesting carols as it has long been hailed for presenting Joseph as very human and realistic.

Significance Of The Carol
The ballad relates the story of the Virgin Mary, presumably while traveling to Bethlehem for the census with Joseph. The event pass as such in the most popular version of the carol- Mary and Jesus stop at a cherry orchard and Mary asks her husband to pick some cherries for her as she is tired and hungry. Joseph, who is generally very kind is in an irritable mood and because he knows the child isn't his, he tells Mary to tell the child's father to pick her cherries.

Jesus, having heard this conversation from the womb, speaks to the tree and asks it to lower a branch for Mary to pluck cherries. Joseph, upon seeing this miracle immediately regrets his mean words from before. The Carol generally ends here but sometimes it includes an angel appearing to Joseph and telling him about Jesus's birth. Most version then fast forward a couple of years and reach the point where Jesus is seated on Mary's lap and is telling her how he will die and be subsequently resurrected.

Of course, it is impossible to prove this tale as true due to the lack of historical or religious evidence. It is rather unlikely in fact because of Joseph’s patient and caring attitude, it is hard to imagine him being rude to someone, much less his own beloved Mary. However, like all carols, it does stray into the Nativity and events before and after Jesus’s birth are presented before us.

Truth About The Carol

The legend of the cherry-tree is very ancient. The mysteries represented at Coventry on the feast of Corpus Christi in the fifteenth century, if not earlier, is entitled “The Birth of Christ.” These days the latter part of the carol is generally presented as a different carol known as Joseph and the Angel.

The Cherry Tree Carol Lyrics

Joseph was an old man,
And an old man was he,
And he married Mary
The Queen of Galilee.

When Joseph was married
And Mary home had brought,
Mary proved with child
And Joseph knew it not.

Joseph and Mary walked
Through a garden gay,
Where the cherries they grew
Upon every tree.

O then bespoke Mary,
With words both meek and mild,
“O gather me cherries, Joseph,
They run so in my mind.”

And then replied Joseph
With his words so unkind,
“Let him gather thee cherries
That got thee with child.”

O then bespoke our Saviour,
And in His mother's womb,
“Bow down, good cherry-tree,
To my mother's hand.”

The uppermost sprig
Bowed down to Mary's knee,
“Thus you may see, Joseph,
These cherries are for me.”

“O eat your cherries, Mary,
O eat your cherries now,
O eat your cherries, Mary,
That grow upon the bough.”

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