Joseph was an old man
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
About the headline (FAQ)
View original text (without footnotes)
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
This website began in 1995 as a personal project, and I have been working
on it full-time without a salary since 2008. Our research has
never had any government or institutional funding, so if you
the information here useful, please consider making a donation. Your gift is greatly appreciated.
- Emily Ezust
Browse imslp.org (Petrucci Music Library) for Lieder or choral works