"Van vrouden ons die kinder singham," sometimes referred to as the Dutch "Date Palm Carol," is interesting for its parallels with the Old English "Cherry Tree Carol," except that in referring to a Date Palm -- which fits in much better with a Palestinian background -- it may refer to an even older tradition than the English Carol. It was said to have been sung to the plainsong melody, "Conditor Alme Siderum." Heinrich Hoffmann in his Hollandische Volkslieder (Breslau, 1833) translates part of it as follows:
Joseph he did leap and run
Until an ass' foal he won,
Whereon he set that maiden mild,
And with her that most blessed child.
Joseph he led the ass,
The bridle held he;
What found they by the way
But a date-tree.
Oh, ass' foal, thou must stand still,
To gather dates it is our will,
So weary are we.
The date-tree bowed to the earth
To Mary's knee.
Mary would fill her lap
From the date-tree.
Joseph was an old man,
And wearied was he.
'Mary let the date-tree bide,
We have yet forty miles to ride,
And late it will be.
Let us pray this blessed child
Grant us mercie.
|"Rest on the Flight into Egypt" by Fra Bartolommeo di Pagholo (1472-1517) ||