Carol of the Birds
(tune: Appalachian folk, trad.)

Carol of the Birds is a folk Christmas carol collected by John Jacob Niles.

Niles (April 28, 1892—March 1, 1980), an American composer and collector of ballads, has been called the "Dean of American Balladeers". He was an important influence on the American folk music revival of the 1950s and 1960s, with Joan Baez, Burl Ives, and Peter, Paul and Mary, among others, recording the songs he wrote and collected.
Cherry Tree Carol
(tune and words: circa 15th century)

Cherry Tree Carol is a ballad with the rare distinction of being both a Christmas carol and one of the Child Ballads (no. 54). The song itself is very old, reportedly sung in some form at the Feast of Corpus Christi in the early 15th century. The versions eventually collected by Francis James Child are thought to be a combination of up to three separate carols that merged through the centuries.

The ballad relates an apocryphal story of the Virgin Mary, presumably while traveling to Bethlehem with Joseph for the census. In the most popular version, the two stop in a cherry orchard, and Mary asks her husband to pick cherries for her, citing her child. Joseph spitefully tells Mary to let the child's father pick her cherries. At this point in most versions, the infant Jesus, from the womb, speaks to the tree and commands it to lower a branch down to Mary, which it does. Joseph, witnessing this miracle, immediately repents his harsh words.