Telling Stories & Christmas Songs

Christmas treeI refuse to intentionally listen to Christmas music until we’re at least a week into December. Of course, it’s unavoidable in stores and co-workers sometimes have Pandora going, but I’m just now tuning my radio to the holiday stations. Yesterday, I took Thistle on a solo hike and gave in to the chill air by singing some of my favorites.

Years of listening to Dad’s holiday albums and joining in family sing-alongs in the car have left my head FULL of songs. Oh, I may miss a line or make one up now and then, but I have an extensive repertoire.

As I was singing, I got to thinking about which songs are my favorites. The STORY songs!

I love a song that tells a story–preferably a sweet, sappy story. My two absolute favorites are The Cherry Tree Carol and the Ballad of the Christmas Donkey. What? You don’t know those songs? I’d sing them for you, but that really wouldn’t be good for any of us. My dog and my six-year-old niece are the only ones who fully appreciated my enthusiasm paired with very little singing ability.

So here are the Cherry Tree Carol lyrics (the second line of each stanza is repeated). There are as many versions as there are singers, but this is closest to what I remember:

When Joseph was an old man, an old man was he
He married Virgin Mary, the Queen of Galilee

Joseph and Mary walked through an orchard green
There were cherries and berries, as thick as might be seen

Mary said to Joseph, so meek and so mild:
Joseph, gather me some cherries, for I am with child

Then Joseph flew in anger, in anger flew he
Let the father of the baby gather cherries for thee!

Then up spoke baby Jesus, from out Mary’s womb
Bow you down you cherry tree, so my mother may have some

Then the cherry tree bent down, so low on the ground
And Mary gathered cherries from the branches all around

Sort of an unconventional song, I suppose, but such a good story. Mary confessing her condition to Joseph who is, understandably upset, and then the proof of how unique her condition really is. Perfect. Go on-line and find a version you like–Sting, Judy Collins, Joan Baez . . . there are lots of good one!

How about you–what’s your favorite Christmas song and what do you love about it?

6 thoughts on “Telling Stories & Christmas Songs

  1. Andrea

    O come O come Emanuel and “The Angel Gabriel”- Sting’s version. Hey, I’m retired clergy and used to sing…a LOT before I got sick and lost the vocal sustainability

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