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[personal profile] anchorhold
Carols aren't, in their origins, church music at all: they oldest ones are folk songs ('carol' seems originally to have meant a song you could dance to). There were long periods where they would have been sung at home or in carol singing or, indeed, down the pub, and no-one would have thought of singing them in church.

You can, I think, see that this probably wasn't intended for liturgical use though, underneath the fairy-tale setting, the basic emotional dynamic is quite close to Luke's narrative.

And because we're dealing with the oral tradition (it's a Child ballad), here's an alternative version.

54B.1 JOSEPH was an old man,
and an old man was he,
And he married Mary,
the Queen of Galilee.
54B.2 When Joseph was married,
and Mary home had brought,
Mary proved with child,
and Joseph knew it not.
54B.3 Joseph and Mary walked
through a garden gay,
Where the cherries they grew
upon every tree.
54B.4 O then bespoke Mary,
with words both meek and mild:
‘O gather me cherries, Joseph,
they run so in my mind.’
54B.5 And then replied Joseph,
with words so unkind:
‘Let him gather thee cherries
that got thee with child.’
54B.6 O then bespoke our Saviour,
all in his mother’s womb:
‘Bow down, good cherry-tree,
to my mother’s hand.’
54B.7 The uppermost sprig
bowed down to Mary’s knee:
‘Thus you may see, Joseph,
these cherries are for me.’
54B.8 ‘O eat your cherries, Mary,
O eat your cherries now;
O eat your cherries, Mary,
that grow upon the bough.’
54B.9 As Joseph was a walking,
he heard an angel sing:
‘This night shall be born
our heavenly king.
54B.10 ‘He neither shall be born
in housen nor in hall,
Nor in the place of Paradise,
but in an ox’s stall.
54B.11 ‘He neither shall be clothed
in purple nor in pall,
But all in fair linen,
as were babies all.
54B.12 ‘He neither shall be rocked
in silver nor in gold,
But in a wooden cradle,
that rocks on the mould.
54B.13 ‘He neither shall be christened
in white wine nor red,
But with fair spring water,
with which we were christened.’
54B.14 Then Mary took her young son,
and set him on her knee:
‘I pray thee now, dear child,
tell how this world shall be.’
54B.15 ‘O I shall be as dead, mother,
as the stones in the wall;
O the stones in the street, mother,
shall mourn for me all.
54B.16 ‘And upon a Wednesday
my vow I will make,
And upon Good Friday
my death I will take.
54B.17 ‘Upon Easter-day, mother,
my rising shall be;
O the sun and the moon
shall uprise with me.
54B.18 ’ The people shall rejoice,
and the birds they shall sing,
To see the uprising
of the heavenly king.’
Child Ballads 54 B
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