Cherry Tree Carol

December 22, 2012 11:15 pm

There’s a 15th-century English carol which tells about the journey of the Holy Family – pregnant Mary and St Joseph – to the census in Bethlehem. In that story Mary asks Joseph to pick some cherries for her, as they’re passing by a chery tree. And then Joseph speaks to Mary with very little politness: “Go and ask the father of the baby to pick the cherries for you”. At that moment the cherry tree lowers its branches down to the ground for Mary to pick the cherries for herself. Joseph speaks the words of profound repentence.

“Cherry Tree Carol” – belongs of course to the apocryphal tradition. The fact that Mary has a “longing” – as pregnant women do – is very moving, but St Joseph has to forgive the authors sketching him in such an unfavourable manner. But even that folk ballad tells a lot about Holy Mary and the marriage itself. In our non-holy lives – if we were Her – we would have a perfect material for at least a minor argument. At least a quick and sharp retort. Or even the shortest litany of unfulfilled expectations.

And here – the folk wisdom says that when you do not try to prove the other person wrong – God may act and bring in a surprise of His grace.

And this is how we might avoid a “pre-Christmas argument”. For which I pray especially – for me and for you – to the Holy Family wandering to Bethlehem these days. 🙂


“Cherry Tree Carol” by Sting –  HERE.


Categorised in: Margaret