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The Cherry Tree Carol - arr. Paul Halley
Publication Details


  Catalogue Number -

Voicing/Instrumentation -
Solo voice, Banjo or Guitar,
SATB Choir with Organ and percussion

Level of Difficulty -

Uses/Season -

Perusal score pdf can be viewed while listening simultaneously to
audio track below.
Duration -
4:15 mins

Pages Music -
15 pages - 20 page booklet
Format -
Solo voice/SATB/organ
choral octavo

Copyright Year - 2019

perusal score
SATB perusal - page 1 -3 of 15

PEL2104 "The Cherry Tree Carol"

This traditional English & American (Appalachian) folk song is delightful in the simplicity of its tune and text. For the 2019 performance of "A King's Christmas", Paul Halley created an arrangement for guest singer/narrator "Old Man" (Chris) Ludecke to offer his signature laid-back vocal style, his inimitable banjo playing set against a lovely soundscape of SATB choir and organ. Percussion of shaker and bodhran highlight the folk origins of this beloved song for Christmas.

Performance Notes from Paul Halley

The opening bars of notation for the percussion parts (Shaker and Bodhran) are simply a guide. Both instruments play throughout the piece (hence the return of their notation at the end), maintaining the groove as indicated at the beginning, but feeling free to vary the rhythmic interest as desired. Listening to the recording at "A King's Christmas 2019" - Youtube video (starting at 1:17:23 to 1:21:28) will help in deciding on different approaches.  Video at right on this page.

The soloist on this recording of the premiere is a folk singer and banjo player. The combination of his unaffected singing and his tasteful banjo playing was the impetus for this arrangement of the Kentucky version of the carol. If the soloist does not play the banjo, a guitar would be an acceptable substitute. The chord symbols are provided only for the sections of the piece in E Major. Aside from the challenges of retuning the banjo midstream (not to mention playing in F# Major!), a nice break in the texture is accomplished by having the banjo sit out verses 4 and 6.


Arranged for "A King's Christmas 2019" featuring 'Old Man' Ludecke and The University of King's College Chapel Choir, directed by Paul Halley.

Not yet commercially recorded

Youtube - Time 4 minutes duration
1:17:24 to 1:21:28
'The Cherry Tree Carol'
Words & Music:
Trad. English & American,
Arranged by Paul Halley

This recording from "A King's Christmas 2019" features 'Old Man' Ludecke and the Chapel Choir of The University of King's College Halifax, directed by Paul Halley. With Henk Fisher on bodhran and Nick Halley on shaker.

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Choral score SATB/organ  
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Choral score SATB/organ  
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SATB Choral Published
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The Cherry Tree Carol

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

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

Then Mary spoke to joseph in a voice meek and 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 within his mother’s womb,
"Bow down, thou tallest branches, that my mother might have some.”

Then bowed down the tallest branches unto his mother’s hand.
Then said Mary, "See, joseph, I have cherries at command."

Then Mary plucked a cherry as red as any blood,
And Mary, she went homeward all with her heavy load.

As Joseph was a-walking, he heard an angel sing,
“This night there shall be born on earth your heavenly King.”

Traditional English & American (Appalachian)