Tag Archives: ramsgate sands

Christmas Donkeys

I’ve always liked donkeys. It probably began when my favourite aunt paid for me to ride on one on Ramsgate Sands back in the 1930s. So, when I was writing new Christmas carols a few years ago, donkeys presented themselves before me and insisted that I should write something about them. ‘After all’, they said, ‘we’re part of the Christmas story’.

I fell to imagining three of them in their retirement, standing happily together in a field somewhere, chatting about their memories. The oldest one said he remembered carrying a young woman up to Bethlehem. She was about to have a baby.

The second one nodded slowly. He said yes, he remembered carrying that baby when he’d grown to a 12-year-old boy. His name was Jesus. And the third, the youngest, said he could remember carrying that same boy Jesus after he’d grown to a man. Lots of crowds in Jerusalem, he said, all cheering him.

I wrote the carol especially for children’s choirs, with composer John Barnard setting the words to music. Listen to it now, while you read. NOTE:  The version below is the present one; the singers here had a slightly earlier version – a couple of words were changed but the meaning is the same.

[audio:http://paulwigmore.co.uk/monday/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/ThreeDonkeys.mp3|titles=Three Donkeys]
I dreamed that I saw three donkeys

I dreamed that I saw three donkeys 
	all resting by Galilee 
and telling me tales of Jesus Christ 
	who was born on the earth for me. 

‘I carried a girl called Mary 
	and heavy with child was she; 
I carried her up to Bethlehem 
	that a-mothering she could be.’

‘I carried the son of Mary, 
	he rode like a prince, did he;
we travelled the streets of Nazareth 
	and a carpenter’s boy was he.’

‘I carried the Lord of Mary 
	to shouts of a jubilee; 
I carried him to Jerusalem, 
	for the King of the Jews was he.’ 

I’m glad that I saw three donkeys 
	all resting by Galilee; 
they tell me that I must be like him 
	who was born on the earth for me.

Tom Cunningham