While its origins may be disputed, the love for this verse is not. The Friendly Beasts, also known as The Animal Carol and The Gift of the Animals, has been used as the text in a variety of children’s books and recorded in song by many over the years.
According to Wikipedia, “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.”
Many of the children’s books created around this story use Davis’ words. However, their pictures vary greatly. Sharing a variety of these books with your class during the holiday season could be the basis of a creative theme study as you compare the illustrators’ styles and any text variations. Your students might even be inspired to illustrate their own version of this verse!
Listed below is a partial text set of some of the books based on the poem The Friendly Beasts.