The Oxford Book of Ballads/The Cherry-Tree Carol
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For other versions of this work, see The Cherry-Tree Carol.
- JOSEPH was an old man, and an old man was he,
- when he wedded Mary in the land of Galilee.
- Joseph and Mary walk’d through an orchard good,
- where was cherries and berries so red as any blood.
- Joseph and Mary walk’d through an orchard green,
- where was berries and cherries as thick as might be seen.
- O then bespoke Mary, so meek and so mild,
- ‘Pluck me one cherry, Joseph, for I am with child.’
- O then bespoke Joseph with words so unkind,
- ‘Let him pluck thee a cherry that brought thee with child.’
- O then bespoke the babe within his mother’s womb,
- ‘Bow down then the tallest tree for my mother to have some.’
- Then bow’d down the highest tree unto his mother’s hand:
- when she cried, ‘See, Joseph, I have cherries at command!’
- O then bespake Joseph— ‘I have done Mary wrong;
- but cheer up, my dearest, and be not cast down.
- ‘O eat your cherries, Mary, o eat your cherries now;
- o eat your cherries, Mary, that grow upon the bough.’
- Then Mary pluck’d a cherry as red as the blood;
- then Mary went home with her heavy load.
- As Joseph was a-walking, he heard an angel sing:
- ‘This night shall be born 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 clothéd in purple nor in pall,
- but all in fair linen, as were babies all.
- ‘He neither shall be rock’d in silver nor in gold,
- but in a wooden cradle that rocks on the mould.
- He neither shall be christen’d in white wine nor red,
- but with fair spring water with which we were christenéd.
- Then Mary took her young son and set him on her knee;
- ‘I pray thee now, dear child, tell how this world shall be.’—
- ‘O I shall be as dead, mother, as the stones in the wall;
- o the stones in the street, mother, shall mourn for me all.
- ‘And upon a Wednesday my vow I will make,
- and upon Good Friday my death I will take.
- ‘Upon Easter-day, mother, my uprising shall be;
- o the sun and the moon, mother, shall both rise with me!’