As the apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my love among the young men. With great delight I sat in his shadow, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. he brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love. (Song of Songs 2:3-4)
I had a minor "eureka" moment recently.
If my mother were still alive it would be around about now that she would start playing Christmas music around the house, and making suggestions as to what we should sing or perform at church this Christmas. She was surprisingly open-minded about such things (for someone who had studied at the Royal Acedemy!) and even arranged White Christmas is a swing band style for the choir one year.
Anyway... one of the songs I used to hear if I was at my parents' house was "Jesus Christ the Apple Tree" - which although sung at Christmas doesn' really have anything to do with Christmas. I had always thought it a bit odd lyrically (it is often referred to as a mystical poem) but also strangely engaging and the melody (and well-known setting by Elizabeth Poston) is beautiful (you can hear a version of it here).
In reading Song of Songs again I suddenly realised that "Jesus Christ the Apple Tree" is not merely a mystical poem, it is a meditation on the verses at the top of this post. For a more wordy meditation on the same verses see this devotion by CH Spurgeon.
So here is the song. It is only let down by the second line of the final stanza, which, if I ever use the song may find "dying" replaced by "living"!
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.