poetry · quotations · textiles in literature

Texts & Textiles: A Christmas Carol

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

Today is the 10th day of Christmas, and at our house, we’re still singing carols. One of my favorites is “The Friendly Beasts,” a song that may have its origins in medieval French merriment. Each verse details the contribution of one of the animals in the stable where Christ is born. The cow contributes her manger; the dove her song. The sheep, not surprisingly, offers his wooly coat.

Besides being a beautiful fable–each beast bringing his or her essential gift to the Creator incarnate–this song also touches on the great mystery we heard last week in the hymn of Ephrem the Syrian. In coming to earth and making use of earthly flesh and bone, Christ proclaimed once again the joyful call of Genesis: that this world was made through Him, and it was very good. Until Christ comes again to restore the world He made, creation groans, but it also gives. It gives its wood, its leaf, its stars, its finest wool to welcome its Maker home.

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