My Favorite Carols: Jesus Christ the Apple Tree

>> Saturday, December 18, 2010

I first heard this elegant setting of Jesus Christ the Apple Tree, back in the 1990s when I bought a recording of the Cambridge Choir conducted by John Rutter and it was one of the pieces on that recording. It instantly became one of my favorites. This particular setting of an 18th century poem by an anonymous New Englander was composed by a woman, Elizabeth Poston, who died in 1987. Most of you are probably not familiar with this one, but I assure you, it's worth a listen, especially if you're fond of the more "plainsong" type carols.

The first known publication of "Jesus Christ the Apple Tree" was in 1784 in Divine Hymns, or Spiritual Songs: for the use of Religious Assemblies and Private Christians by Joshua Smith, a lay Baptist minister from New Hampshire. It may have been based on an earlier anonymous American poem first printed in London's Spiritual Magazine in August of 1761.

The song may be an allusion to both the apple tree in Songs 2:3 which has been interpreted as a metaphor representing Christ, and to Jesus' description of his life as a tree of life in Luke 13:18-19 and elsewhere in the New Testament including Revelation 22:1-2. Apple trees were commonly grown in early New England and there was an old English tradition of wassailing or wishing health to apple trees on Christmas eve. The song is now performed by choirs around the world, especially during the Christmas season as a Christmas carol
. --Wikipedia


mererwin December 18, 2010 at 10:17 AM  

I've have thoroughly enjoyed your post Lynette. Your list has included some of my own favorite Christmas songs but it has also introduced me to a few I hadn't heard before. All the selections have been beautiful arrangements.

Jasper December 18, 2010 at 10:56 PM  

While nodding considerately at the cheery carolfesting here, I'm wondering how I can best ask my question politely. Let's try and see....

Lynette, will this blog be returning to real music soon?

Um, no. No, I don't think that came out quite right after all....

Lynette December 19, 2010 at 12:29 AM  

Jasper - I happen to like carols and I do consider them "real" music. So how do I politely say, "bite me"?


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