Saturday, September 24, 2011
Jesus Christ the Apple Tree
Jesus Christ the Apple Tree (also known as Apple Tree) is a poem written by an unknown New Englander in the 18th century. It has been set to music by a number of composers, including Jeremiah Ingalls (1764–1838) and Elizabeth Poston (1905–1987).
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 compiled by Joshua Smith, a lay Baptist minister from New Hampshire. The hymn may have been based on an earlier anonymous poem first printed in London's Spiritual Magazine in August of 1761 crediting "R.H." as the writer.
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.
1. The tree of life my soul hath seen,
Laden with fruit and always green:
The trees of nature fruitless be
Compared with Christ the apple tree.
2. His 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 apple tree.
3. For happiness I long have sought,
And pleasure dearly I have bought:
I missed of all; but now I see
'Tis found in Christ the apple tree.
4. I'm weary with my former toil,
Here I will sit and rest awhile:
Under the shadow I will be,
Of Jesus Christ the apple tree.
5. This fruit doth make my soul to thrive,
It keeps my dying faith alive;
Which makes my soul in haste to be
With Jesus Christ the apple tree
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