The Cherry Tree

Album: If on a Winter's Night... (2009)
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  • In December 2009, Sting was the subject of a BBC TV documentary; he was working on a special Winter Song project in which he included "The Cherry Tree," which he said was the most touching human story of the Nativity he'd ever heard.

    It was, he said, a very old English poem that was taken to America where it was given an Appalachian setting. Joseph and Mary are walking when they see a cherry tree; she says, I'm with child, will you get me some cherries? Joseph replies let the father of the baby get the cherries. Then the cherry tree bows down to allow her to gather them. He performed it almost a cappella for the program, but the song has of course been widely recorded by sundry folk artists.
  • Written in 3/4 time, "The Cherry Tree" was discussed in the December 1995 issue of Inside Bluegrass magazine by Bob Waltz in his article The Cherry Tree Carol. Waltz says the story may have originated in the Infancy Gospel Of The Pseudo-Matthew, an apocryphal 9th Century Latin work. Here, it was not a cherry tree but a date tree. The Gnosis Archive has published this particular passage; herein, Mary and Joseph are fleeing from King Herod when they find a palm tree in the desert. Mary is (obvious) fatigued by the heat of the Sun, and asks Joseph if he will pick her a date, to which he replies:

    I wonder that thou sayest this, when thou seest how high the palm tree is; and that thou thinkest of eating of its fruit. I am thinking more of the want of water, because the skins are now empty..."

    But he reckoned without his infant son, for "Then the child Jesus, with a joyful countenance, reposing in the bosom of His mother, said to the palm: O tree, bend thy branches, and refresh my mother with thy fruit. And immediately at these words the palm bent its top down to the very feet of the blessed Mary; and they gathered from it fruit, with which they were all refreshed." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England, for above 2
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