CHERRY TREE CAROL

Latest update on 19/11/2012

Artist: Paul Clayton
Author: traditional
Label: Folkways
Year: 1956

On Folk Ballads Of The English Speaking World. Both Christmas carol and Child ballad (#54), published in 1911. In his English Folk Songs From The Southern Appalachians (1932), Francis Child collected versions as When Joseph Was A Young Man, while John A. Lomax collected a version as When Joseph Was An Old Man in Kentucky (1917).

Covers:

1959:

Shirley Collins [on debut album Sweet England]

1961:

Joan Baez

1961:

Jean Ritchie

1965:

Mitchell Trio [vocal by John Denver]

1972:

Pentangle [own melody]

1972:

Mary Hopkin [B-side of Mary Had A Baby]

1977:

Angelo Branduardi [as Il Ciliegio]

1988:

Peter, Paul & Mary

1989:

José Feliciano

1990:

Clancy Brothers [as When Joseph Was An Old Man]

1994:

Judy Collins

2004:

Emmylou Harris

2006:

Waterson-Carthy

2009:

Sting

2010:

Annie Lennox [as As Joseph Was A Walking (The Cherry Tree Carol)]

2012:

Roberta Flack [bonus track on the reissue edition of her Christmas Songs album from '97]

Some lyrics pinpoint the birth of Christ "on the 5th day of January", which can be explained considering the 1751 decision to skip 11 consecutive days on the 1752 calendar (between 2 & 14 September). The consequence was that until 1799 Christmas day was celebrated on the 4th of January. In the year 1800 another day was dropped and again in 1900, which means we now in fact celebrate Christ's birth around Epiphany (AKA Twelfthnight!).

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