Thursday, December 25, 2008

Old English Christmas Carol

Merry Christmas to all! When I was a child this was probably my favourite Christmas Carol. Long before I saw my first Disney movie, I was fascinated by the idea of talking animals, so the idea that animals could speak on Christmas Eve was particularly attractive to me. I still remember it from a little cassette tape and book of Christmas Carols that I carried around with me for MONTHS leading up to Christmas. The tape was played so much that it always warbled during this song (and during my other favourites, the "Wassailing Song," "Good King Wenceslas" and "The Holy and the Ivy". I guess even then I had a thing for Old English Carols!

The Friendly Beasts
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 up hill and down;
I carried His mother 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 my hay to pillow His head."
"I," said the Cow, all white and red.

"I," said the Sheep, with the curly horn,
"I gave Him my wool for His blanket warm;
He wore my coat on Christmas morn."
"I," said the Sheep, with the 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.

Thus every beast by some glad spell,
In the stable dark was glad to tell
Of the gift he gave Emmanuel,
The gift he gave Emmanuel.

Image courtesy of the Tate Gallery. It's "The Adoration" by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and was painted between 1858 and 1864. I had actually never seen this painting before today! I just love the strong Medieval quality that it has. I'm so glad I found it!


Hermes said...

What a lovely card - thanks.

alice c said...

How good to hear from you again.

I love the picture which I have not seen before and will make time over the New Year to go and see it in the Tate Gallery.

Wishing you all the best for 2009.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Ah, we are on the same wavelength!

Edward and I wish you a most Happy Christmas season!! Glad Tidings to You!!

Margaret said...

It's good to hear from you guys too! Happy New Year!

skatej said...

I definitely sang the dove's verse in a Christmas program at school when I was seven. Had a posterboard with a picture of a dove in a nest and a hole for my head to go through, too. Ah, childhood!

acornmoon said...

That is a lovely poem, it reminds me of another verse. I wonder if you have ever come across a children's picture book called "Can it be true" by Susan Hill, illustrated by Angela Barrett. I am sure you would love it.

Have a wonderful New Year!

Sarah said...

Last year was the first time I heard that particular Christmas carol in your post- Peter, Paul and Mary sang it in their Christmas album, which I received as a birthday gift. It's a cute little song :o)

M.Kate said...

Happy New Year Margaret :D

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year!

I hadn't heard of that carol before. Yes the painting is beautiful. The angels in the roof remind me of the Medieval wooden beam carvings in church roofs.

Margaret said...

Thanks, Melanie!

I agree about the angels in the roof as well!

Owlfarmer said...

I hadn't come across the carol before--so thanks for posting it. My favorite by far is Christina Rossetti's "In the Bleak Midwinter" which we used to sing at the annual Messiah Sing at my college. Sadly, the instigators retired and gave up on the effort, so I seldom hear it any more, but it's always nice when someone mentions something out of the ordinary.