Jesus Christ the Apple Tree
Elizabeth Poston (1905–1987) composed this exquisite setting which she included in The Second Penguin Book of Christmas Carols, Elizabeth Poston, editor. She notes that “the beautiful visionary words in the imagery of the Tree of Life are printed without tune in Joshua Smith’s Divine Hymns or Spiritual Songs, Portsmouth, New Hampshire 1784.”
“Jesus Christ the Apple Tree.” Elizabeth Poston, Christmas at King's, King’s College Choir, Cambridge, David Wilcocks, conductor. EMI 2008. Disc 2, Track 13.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Spross aus Isais Wurzel [O Shoot of Jesse’s Stem]
The third “O Antiphon” proper to December 19 set by Arvo Pärt for four-voice choir.
“O Spross aus Isais Wurzel.” Arvo Pärt, Out of the Night, Taverner Choir, Andrew Parrott. conductor, Sony 1999. Track 5.
O Sproß aus Isais Wurzel, gesetzt zum Zeichen für die Völker, vor dir verstummen die Herrscher der Erde, dich flehen an die Völker: o komm und errette uns, erhebe dich, säume nicht länger.
O shoot of Jesse’s stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples, before whom kings stand in silence, all people bow before you. Come to deliver us, and tarry not.
Es ist ein Rose entsprungen [There is a Rose Springing]
The melody is believed to date from the fourteenth or fifteenth century, but the earliest source is the Alte Catholische Geistliche Kirchengeseng, Cologne, 1599. Michael Praetorius arranged the melody in its most familiar form. The earliest version of the text (twenty-three stanzas based on Luke 1 and 2, and Matthew 2) was transcribed less than two decades before by Brother Conrad, a Carthusian of Mainz.
This arrangement by Hugo Distler (1908-42) is an excerpt from the beginning of a chorale by the same name in a larger work, Die Weihnachtsgeschichte, Opus 10 (“The Christmas Story”).
“Es ist ein Rose.” Traditional German, arr. Hugo Distler, Christmas with Chanticleer, Joseph Jennings, director, Teldec Classics 2001. Track 4.
Es ist ein Rose entsprungen
aus einer Wurzel zart,
als uns die Alten sungen:
von Jesse kam die Art
und hat ein Blümlein bracht
mitten im kalten Winter
wohl zu der halben Nacht.
There is a rose sprung
from a tender root,
of which the ancestors sang:
come from Jesse’s lineage,
a bloom brought forth
in the middle of cold winter
when half-spent was the night.