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One of the oldest known French carols, Here, mid the Ass and Oxen Mild (In French, “Entre le bœuf et l’âne gris”) dates from as early as the 13th century. A “modern” harmonized version, titled “Le sommeil de l’enfant Jésus” first appeared in Collection de chœurs, a 10-volume compendium of choral music composed and compiled by Belgian composer and musicologist François-Auguste Gevaert in the late 19th century. The text was eventually translated into English by Episcopal Canon Charles Winfred Douglas and appeared in the 1940 Episcopal Hymnal. The presence of the ox and ass is significant in that both were mentioned centuries before Christ’s birth in Isaiah’s prophecy: “The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib.” Certainly, oxen could have been the occupants of the stable in which Mary and Joseph lodged, and the ass would have carried the pregnant mother from Nazareth to Bethlehem. This simple lullaby arranged by Alice Parker and Robert Shaw is scored for soprano soloist and accompanying chorus.

Here, mid the ass and oxen mild,
Sleep, sleep, sleep my little Child,
Thousand seraphim, thousand cherubim
Come from Heav’n above to guard the Lord of Love.

Here, where sweet flow’rs their fragrance bring,
Sleep, sleep, sleep my little King,
Thousand seraphim, thousand cherubim
Come from Heav’n above to guard the Lord of Love.

Here, where the shepherds’ search is done,
Sleep, sleep, sleep my little son,
Thousand seraphim, thousand cherubim
Come from Heav’n above to guard the Lord of Love.