The Friendly Beasts

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"The Friendly Beasts" is a traditional Christmas 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".[1] The current English words were written by Robert Davis (1881-1950) in the 1920s.[2]

The song is also known as "The Song of the Ass", The Donkey Carol", "The Animal Carol", and "The Gift of the Animals."[2]

Covers and translation[edit]

Burl Ives included the song on his 1952 album Christmas Day in the Morning. Since then, it has been recorded by many other artists, including Harry Belafonte, The Harry Simeone Chorale, Johnny Cash (Belafonte and Cash use the title "The Gifts They Gave"), Risë Stevens, Danny Taddei, Peter, Paul and Mary, and Sufjan Stevens.[3] Brian Stokes Mitchell in 2008 sang this song with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, complete with the donkey, cow, and sheep "voices". Garth Brooks recorded it on his 1992 platinum album Beyond the Season. "The Friendly Beasts / L'Amikaj Bestoj" is a (free) simple score with all seven verses in English plus an Esperanto translation by Gene Keyes, October 2015. [4]


  1. ^ The Friendly Beasts at Hymn Time
  2. ^ a b The Friendly Beasts at The Hymns and Carols of Christmas
  3. ^ iTunes: Music Store[citation needed]
  4. ^ The Friendly Beasts / L'Amikaj Bestoj