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December 2014 • The Cherry Tree Carol


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Brought to you from the 15th century, this carol (Child Ballad 54) tells the story of Mary and Joseph before the baby Jesus was born.

Lyrics:
[F] JOSEPH was an old man,
and an old man was he,
[When he courted lovely [Dm] Mary,
the queen of [F] Galilee. X2]
Joseph and Mary walked
through an orchard good,
Where was cherries and berries,
so red as any blood. X2

Joseph and Mary walked
through an orchard green,
Where was berries and cherries,
as thick as might be seen. X2

O then bespoke Mary,
so meek and so mild:
‘Pluck me one cherry, Joseph,
for I am with child.’ X2

O then bespoke Joseph,
with words most unkind:
‘Let him pluck thee a cherry
that brought thee with child.’X2

O then bespoke the babe,
from within his mother’s womb:
‘Bow down then the tallest tree,
for my mother to have some.’X2

Then bowed down the highest tree
unto his mother’s hand;
She cried, See, dear Joseph,
I have cherries at command.X2

O then bespoke Joseph:
‘I have done Mary wrong;
But cheer up, my dearest,
and be not thou cast down.’ X2

Then Mary plucked a cherry,
as red as the blood,
Then Mary went homeward
with her heavy load.X2

Then Mary took her babe,
and sat him down on her knee,
Saying, My dear son, please tell me
what this world will be.X2

‘O I shall be as dead, mother,
as the stones in this wall;
O the stones in the streets, mother,
shall mourn for me all.X2

‘Upon Easter-day, mother,
my uprising shall be;
O the sun and the moon, mother,
shall both rise with me.’X2


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