|Song Manuscripts||Song as collected||Copy to download and sing|
|MIDIs||MIDI – as collected|
Version 2. Collected from Mary Anne Roberts at Winchcombe Union (Workhouse) by Cecil Sharp on 8 April 1909, learnt from her mother. Mary Ann had previously been visited on 24th April 1908 by Miss Eliza Wedgwood, who made a phonograph recording of the song, and other songs. The composer Percy Grainger then transcribed the song on 31st July 1909 from the recording, noting that Mary Ann was ‘a native of Beckford (Worcestershire)’. The transcription we show here is Sharp’s. Mary Ann’s tune is very similar to the second part of the tune of the local carol “A Virgin Unspotted”.
|Song Manuscripts||Song as collected and to sing|
|Midis||Midi as collected and to sing|
|Contemporary Version – The Odd Occasions||Cherry Tree Carol – The Odd Occasions|
Version 3. Collected by Maud Karpeles and Pat Shuldham-Shaw from John Partridge of Cinderford on 22 August 1952.
Contemporary version – John Kirkpatrick Cherry Tree carol – John Kirkpatrick
MIDI Tune for Singing
The story comes under the heading of Apocryphal Carols and is derived from the apocryphal Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew, which combines many earlier apocryphal Nativity traditions; however, in Pseudo-Matthew, the event takes place during the flight into Egypt, and the fruit tree is a palm tree (presumably a date palm) and not a cherry tree. In the apocryphal Gospel, Jesus has already been born and so Joseph’s truculence is unrelated to any dismay over Mary’s pregnancy, but has to do with an inability to reach the fruits of the palm and a concern over the family’s lack of water. [Note from Francis James Child – English and Scottish Popular Ballads]. The story also appears in the Coventry Mystery Plays of the 16th Century.
The story has long retained a fascination for generations of singers and collected versions have appeared in many places in the English-speaking world.
Note by Gwilym Davies November 2011