(Version 1: Traditional Breton)
(Version 2: Traditional English)
(Version 3: Henry John Gauntlett)
There are several versions of a carol known by this name with them all being linked in one way or another to the second of the The Cherry Tree Carol series of Christmas songs. The version known as “As Joseph Was A-Walking” is said to be an adaptation of a Traditional Breton song and was published in London by Ralph Dunstan in his The Cornish Song Book in 1929.
It is thought to have been sung in Cornwall, England, at the Cornish Plays of around 1400 but has been suggested it is possibly even older from France and of traditional Breton origin. A second version is entitled “As Joseph was a Waukin'” described as being Traditional English and published by Burton Egbert Stevenson in New York in The Home Book of Verse in 1912.
A further third version and possibly the best known version is “As Joseph Was A Walking” which was written and composed by Henry John Gauntlett and published by R.R. Chopes after his death in Carols for Use in Church in 1894. Sabine Baring-Gould taught this one to some girls in 1884, but during the time he was reciting the carol to them, they stopped him and started singing a different carol that seemed similar to them and was possibly a variation on The Cherry Tree Carol.
Kim Robertson & Virginia Kron recordings
Invincible 119 (CD: Celtic Christmas II)
Cello – Virginia Kron
Celtic Harp – Kim Robertson
Here it is being sung by Annie Lennox and the African Children’s Choir…