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(Part I tune):

Joseph was an old man
And an old man was he,
When he wedded Mary
In the land of Galilee.

Joseph and Mary walked
Through an orchard good,
Where was cherries and berries
So red as any blood

Joseph and Mary walked
Through an orchard green
Where was berries and cherries
As thick as might be seen.

O then bespoke Mary,
With words so meek and mild,
'Pluck me one cherry, Joseph,
For I am with child.'

O then bespoke Joseph,
With answer most unkind,
'Let him pluck thee a cherry
That brought thee now with child.'

O then bespoke the baby
Within his mother's womb--
Bow down then the tallest tree
For my mother to have some.'

Then bowed down the highest tree,
Unto his mother's hand.
Then she cried, 'See, Joseph,
I have cherries at command.'

O then bespake Joseph--
'I have done Mary wrong;
But now cheer up, my dearest
And do not be cast down.

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

Then Mary plucked a cherry,
As red as any blood;
Then Mary she went homewards
All with her heavy load.

(Part II tune):

As Joseph was a-walking,
He heard an angel sing:
'This night there shall be born
On earth our heavenly King;

'He neither shall be born
In housen nor in hall,
Nor in the place of Paradise,
But in an ox's stall.

'He neither shall be cloth├?┬Ęd
In purple nor in pall,
But all in fair linen
As wear the babies all.

'He neither shall be rock├?┬Ęd
In silver nor in gold,
But in the wooden cradle
That rocks upon the mould.

(last part of Part II tune):

'He neither shall be christened
In white wine nor red,
But with fair spring water
As we were christen├?┬Ęd.'

(Part III tune):

Then Mary took her young son,
And set him on her knee:
Saying, 'My dear son, tell me,
Tell how this world shall be.'

'O I shall be as dead, mother,
As stones are in the wall;
O the stones in the streets, mother,
Shall sorrow for me all.

'On Easter-day, dear mother,
My rising up shall be;
O the sun and the moon, mother,
Shall both arise with me.'

abc | midi | pdf
Source: The Oxford Book of Carols, ed. Percy Dearmer, R. Vaughan Williams, Martin Shaw, 1928.

This was one of the most popular carols, and was printed in broadsides in all parts of England. Hone gives a version, 1822, and Sandys another, 1833, identical down to v. 8 with Bullen's. The same legend, with a dialogue no less 'unkind', occurs in The Coventry Mystery Plays. Our first tune is from Husk, our second was preserved by Fyfe in his Carils of 1860, our third is also traditional. The whole story of carol-music is summed up in an incident related by Baring-Gould: about 1865 he was teaching carols to a party of mill-girls in West Riding; "and amongst them that by Dr. Gauntlett --" Saint Joseph was a walking" -- when they burst out with "Nay! we know one a great deal better nor yond"; and, lifting up their voices, they sang'.

Roud: 453 (Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six
Child: 54

Related Songs:  The Cherry Tree (2) (thematic)

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