Hark! The Herald Banjo Rings
"The Friendly Beasts" originated in 12th century France as a Latin hymn. It supposedly came to England during that century, and the lyrics changed substantially. I have fond memories of this hymn because of the Tomie DePaola book, which I used to read every year growing up.
This year, Liddy is using this hymn as the basis for the Christmas pageant at Smithfield United Church of Christ, telling the Christmas story from the perspective of the donkey, cow, sheep, and camel. I've included the camel verse she and I wrote to replace the dove verse.
The Friendly Beasts
Words: French carol, 12th century; trans. anon.
Music: ORIENTIS PARTIBUS, French melody, early 13th century.
Jesus, our Brother, strong and good,
Was humbly born in a stable rude,
And the friendly beasts around Him stood, Jesus, our Brother, strong and good.
"I," said the donkey, shaggy and brown,
"I carried His mother uphill 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 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.
Thus 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.
Alternate verse - Liddy and Greg Barlow, 2008.
"I," said the camel, a hump-backed beast, "I carried the wise ones from the East,
To give their gifts to the Prince of Peace; "I," said the camel, a hump-backed beast.