An old English tradition during the winter was wassailing in apple orchards – ceremonies designed to ensure the fertility of the trees. The following text first appeared in 1761, and became a well-known Christmas carol in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, especially in America. It was memorably set to music by the English church composer Elizabeth Poston (1905-1987).
Jesus Christ the Apple Tree
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.