As a child, I remember my mom reading a story at Christmas time about the animals in the nativity. There is also a poem called “The Friendly Beasts” (or, alternatively, “the Song of the Ass”—thank you, Wikipedia) that draws upon these same themes. Maybe growing up around animals (and being a Shepherd) impressed this imagery upon me? A song that I have been listening to this year has been similar and I declared today that it will be my favorite Christmas song of the year. I do not have a particular fondness for Christmas music either…
Last year, one of my favorite bands—mewithoutyou –put out an album which was a clear evolution from their original sound (which could be best summed as strange). It’s All Crazy! It’s All False! It’s All a Dream! It’s Alright! draws upon horticulture and Sufi folktales for inspiration and unexpected acoustic instruments and clever lyricism to tell their stories.
Their song, A Stick, A Carrot, and String (listen here) is my official Christmas song of the year, to be played for all twelve months, per my decree. Here are the first few lines which have been an inspired, imaginative Christology for me through the year. Amazing how a lyric can penetrate layers of reading, study, and formulation to stick with you.
The Horse's hay beneath His head our Lord was born to a manger bed,
that all whose wells run dry could drink of His supply.
To keep Him warm the Sheep drew near, so grateful for His coming here:
You come with news of grace, come to take my place!
The Donkey whispered in His ear: Child, in thirty-some-odd years,
You'll ride someone who looks like me (untriumphantly).
While the Cardinals warbled a joyful song:
He'll make right what man made wrong, bringing low the hills, that the valleys might be filled!