This is a sweet little carol, which I have used for the children’s message at Christmas.
It’s earthy, it’s sweet, it’s an old French carol set to an old French melody. It works. And for kids, it is a creative way to enter the story of the nativity, especially if you have a crèche with these animals in it.
Jesus, our, brother, kind and good,
was humbly born in a stable rude,
and the friendly beasts around him stood,
Jesus, our brother, kind and good.
“I,” said the donkey, shaggy and brown,
“I carried his mother uphill and down,
I carried her safely to Bethlehem town;
I,” said the donkey, shaggy and brown.
“I,” said the cow, all white and red,
“I gave him my manger for his bed,
I gave him hay to pillow his head;
I,” said the cow, all white and red.
“I,” said the sheep with curly horn,
“I gave him my wool for his blanket warm,
he wore my coat on Christmas morn;
I,” said the sheep with curly horn.
“I,” said the dove, from the rafters high,
“I cooed him to sleep that he should not cry,
we cooed him to sleep, my mate and I;
I,” said the dove, from the rafters high.
And all the beasts, by some good spell,
in the stable dark were glad to tell
of the gifts they gave Emmanuel,
the gifts they gave Emmanuel.
I’m sorry I don’t have much more to say about this one this morning – it neither repels nor inspires. It is just a sweet little carol.
This reminds me of the homily I offered once on Christmas Eve, which was about how wonderful it would have been to be born in a stable — warm, sweet-smelling, peaceful. A colleague friend was raised on a farm in Montana in a large family, and he told me that the favorite escape when any of the kids just needed some quiet, down time was to go out to the barn and hang out with the animals for a while. He gave me lots of material. This would be a perfect carol to sing with a homily like that.