Today's song lead me on a rabbit trail that I simply felt like sharing. I find it intriguing to learn about the lives of writers and composers and see how often their story is told or explained in their music. Jesus Christ the Apple Tree has long since been one of my favorite early 1900's hymn tunes--ever since Dr. Grant introduced it in Humanities class my 9th grade year. Here is a piece written about the author, Elizabeth Poston (1905-1987), written up by the Friends of the Forster County in the UK, followed by the text of Jesus Christ the Apple Tree:
Elizabeth Poston was born on 24th October 1905, at Highfield House, Pin Green, Stevenage, the site of which is now occupied by Hampson Park. In 1914, a year after the death of her father, she and her brother were taken by their mother, Clementine, to live at Rooks Nest House, childhood home of E.M. Forster. She lived there for the rest of her life, until 1987.
A highly regarded composer and musicologist, Elizabeth Poston had a distinguished career in radio broadcasting. During World War II she worked for the BBC in London, Bedford and Bristol, ending as a 'secret agent', using gramophone records to send coded messages to allies in Europe. She never revealed the exact nature of this work and it remains secret to this day. After the war, she was one of the team who founded the Third Programme, which became Radio 3. She was an authority on carols and folk-music; her two Penguin books of Christmas carols, published in 1965 and 1970, were regarded as definitive. One of her best-known and loved carols is Jesus Christ the Apple Tree, which is a regular feature of the Christmas Eve service of Nine Lessons and Carols televised from King's College, Cambridge.
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.