Thursday, October 1, 2009

"Jesus Christ, the Appletree"

"Creation of the Animals," by Master Bertram of the Grabow alterpiece

"The Apple Tree Carol"

traditional carol collected by Joshua Smith

The tree of life my soul hath seen
Laden with fruit and always green;
The trees of nature fruitless be,
Compar’d with Christ the appletree.

This beauty doth all things excel,
By faith I know, but ne’er can tell,
The glory which I now can see,
In Jesus Christ the appletree.

For happiness I long have sought,
And pleasure dearly I have bought;
I miss’d of all, but now I see
‘Tis found in Christ the appletree.

I’m weary’d with my former toil,
Here I shall set and rest awhile;
Under the shadow I will be
Of Jesus Christ the appletree.

I’ll sit and eat the fruit divine,
It cheers my heart like spir’tual wine
And now this fruit is sweet to me,
That grows on Christ the appletree.

This fruit doth make my soul to thrive,
It keeps my dying soul alive;
Which makes my soul in haste to be
With Jesus Christ the appletree.

These first of the month pictures and poems (or in this case, lyrics) are like Easter eggs I hid for myself to find - chosen and scheduled far in advance - and when they show up - delight and surprise.

The Apple Tree carol is an old Appalachian song collected Joshua Smith, re-collected by Elizabeth Poston who brought it back with her to England so that these little British boys could sing it so purely. But really the song begs to be sung by some grizzled old guy or a hillswoman with a corn-whiskey twang - it's "set and rest" not "sit" and note the rhyme between "my former toil" and "and rest awhile."

I love the image of Jesus as the tree of life whose branches make a shady place and whose fruit revives. I feel weary, too, with fruitless, former toil and want to make my way to that steady trunk beneath the leaves and set and rest awhile.


Caminante said...

This is my favourite version of Jesus Christ the Apple Tree... one our choir used to sing. The fourth verse was one I sang a lot as I walked the Camino de Santiago de Compostela.

(Over here by way of Mark Delcuze's posting this on his Facebook page.)

Caminante said...

Whoops, got it from another posting on FB, not from Mark. Apologies.

Emma J said...

I find myself singing that fourth verse especially, too.

Don't know Mark Delcuze and Facebook is a large county, but lovely to have you stop by.

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