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Sunday 03 July |
The Feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle
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An often-overlooked carol of the season: ‘The Friendly Beasts’


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Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 12/29/17

This story about the “Prayer of the Donkey” reminded me of a carol from my childhood. I first learned this over 50 years ago, but you rarely hear it performed or sung anymore. Somebackground:

“The Friendly Beasts” is a traditionalChristmas song about the gifts that a donkey, cow, sheep, camel, and dove give to Jesus at the Nativity. The song seems to have originated in 12th-century France, set to the melody of the Latin song “Orientis Partibus”. The current English words were written by Robert Davis (1881-1950) in the 1920s. The song is also known as “The Song of the Ass”, The Donkey Carol”, “The Animal Carol”, and “The Gift of the Animals.”

You can find cover versions of this done by everyone from Garth Brooks to Burl Ives. But they rarely pop up on the radio anymore.

This one, with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Brian Stokes Mitchell, is lovely—and his renderings of the different animal voices are clever.

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