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Joseph was an old man

Language: English

Joseph was an [old]1 man,
  and an [old]1 man was he,
[And he married Mary]2,
  the Queen of Galilee.

[Joseph and Mary walked
  through a garden gay,
Where the cherries they grew
  upon every tree.]3

[O then bespoke Mary,
  with words both meek and mild:
'O gather me cherries, Joseph,
  they run so in my mind.']4

[And then replied Joseph,
  with words so unkind:
'Let him gather thee cherries
  that got thee with child.']5

[O then bespoke our Saviour,
  all in his mother's womb:
'Bow down, good cherry-tree,
  to my mother's hand.']6

[The uppermost sprig
  bowed down to Mary's knee:
'Thus you may see, Joseph,
  these cherries are for me.']7

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Confirmed with English and Scottish Popular Ballads, edited from the collection of Francis James Child by Helen Child Sargent and George Lyman Kittredge, Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1904, pages 99.

Stanzas 1, 3-7 of "The Cherry-Tree Carol," text ID 1285696
1 Edmunds: "young"
2 Edmunds: "He courted Virgin Mary"
3 Edmunds: "As Joseph and Mary / were walking one day, / There were apples and cherries / aplenty by the way."
4 Edmunds: "Then up spake Mary, / so meek and mild; / 'O gather me cherries, Joseph, / for I am with child.'"
5 Edmunds: "Then up spake Joseph, / with his words unkind, / 'Let them gather cherries / that brought thee with child.'"
6 Edmunds: "Then up spake the little child / in his mother's womb, / 'Bow down, you sweet cherry tree, / and give my mother some.'"
7 Edmunds: "Then the top spray of the cherry tree / bowed down to her knee. / 'And now you see Joseph, / here are cherries for me'"

Submitted by Garrett Medlock [Guest Editor]


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

Text added to the website: 2019-02-07.
Last modified: 2019-02-07 16:14:58
Line count: 24
Word count: 110

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