The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Joseph Were A Young Man

Words and Music: Sung by Mrs. Jane Gentry at Hot Springs, N.C., Aug. 24, 1916
Hepatonic. Mode 3, a+b (ionian).
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF

Source: Maud Karpeles, ed., English Folk Songs From The Southern Appalachians Collected by Cecil Sharp, Vol. 1 (London: Oxford University Press / Humphrey Milford, 1932), #15B, p. 91


See generally: The Cherry Tree Carol - Notes

1. Joseph were a young man,
A young man were he,
And he courted Virgin Mary,
The Queen of Gallilee. (sic)

2. Mary and Joseph
Were a-walking one day.
Here is apples and cherries
A-plenty to behold.

3. Mary spoke to Joseph
So meek and so mild:
Joseph, gather me some cherries,
For I am with child.

4. Joseph flew in angry,
In angry he flew,
Saying: Let the father of your baby
Gather cherries for you.

5. The Lord spoke down from Heaven,
These words he did say:
Bow you low down, you cherry tree,
While Mary gathers some.

6. The cherry tree bowed down.
It was low on the ground;
And Mary gathered cherries
While Joseph stood around.

7. Then Joseph took Mary
All on his right knee:
Pray tell me, little baby,
When your birthday shall be.

8. On the fifth day of January
My birthday shall be,
When the stars and the elements
Shall tremble with fear.

9. Then Joseph took Mary
All on his left knee,
Saying: Lord have mercy upon me
For what I have done.

Note: Unique among the Cherry Tree Carols, the Lord commands the cherry tree to bow down before Mary. In Joseph Was An Old Man, Joseph commands the tree to bow down, but in all other versions, the unborn Christ issues the command.

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