Christmas Ballad (Joseph and Mary were living in Galilee)

Mary and Joseph with the wise men, after the baby Jesus was born in a cave:   Joseph and Mary were living in Galilee, when Caesar demanded a census by his decree. They had to travel to Bethlehem, which was a very long way for them, and Mary would soon, so soon, deliver her child.  2 They set out at once, though the trip would be rough, they could see. They made no complaint, for they knew this was how it must be. Mary went happily from the start. She carried the love light in her heart, for Mary would soon, so soon, deliver her child.  3 When they arrived, Mary knew that her moment had come. Joseph went searching for shelter still offered to some. But strangers were suspect and hearts were hard. The hopes and the homes of the world were barred, and Mary would soon, so soon, deliver her child.  4 So in the dirt and the damp and the dark of a cave, took flesh all the love and the life that our God ever gave a beautiful burst of a brilliant sun, a once-in-a-lifetime, seen by none, for Mary had quietly, simply delivered her child.
This folk-style contemporary Christmas carol was written by Medical Mission Sister Miriam Therese Winter in 1971.  It was first published in the collection Gold, Incense and Mrrrh - Contemporary Christmas Carols  released under the Avante Garde label in 1972 (ref).  CDs of this collection, with an accompanying words-only song sheet, are still available from the Medical Mission Sisters today.

It was later included in Songlines - and this is the best source of sheet music for it today.

The tune is also named CHRISTMAS BALLAD.   It has a 4/4 time signature, and in the key of D the first few notes are D DD D DD E EE D C D_  with accompanying chords D / A7 / D.



Downloads


Examples

Original Medical Mission Sisters recording - small group with light folk-instrument accompaniment:




Singer with guitar accompaniment - professional recording:


Lyrics

The full lyrics cannot be given here, because they are still copyright.  For a long time, they were available on the website of Hartford Seminary, where Winter was a long-serving member of staff.  That page is no longer available - though you can find it here in the Internet Archive.  They are also quoted in this website - presumably with permission from the Medical Mission Sisters who own the copyright.

A brief outline is:
1  Joseph and Mary were living in Galilee,
when Caesar demanded a census by his decree.
... and Mary would soon, so soon, deliver her child.

2  They set out at once, though the trip would be rough, they could see.
... for Mary would soon, so soon, deliver her child.

3  When they arrived, Mary knew that her moment had come.
... and Mary would soon, so soon, deliver her child.

4  So in the dirt and the damp and the dark of a cave,
...  for Mary had quietly, simply delivered her child.

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