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Fr. Cecil Champneys Burnham

1914 - 2002

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St. Peter said to Gabriel,

‘Ive just heard from the Lord.

He wants space reserved for donkeys

Who need to be restored.

You must set it up wherever

The grass is fresh and green

With shelter from the burning sun

And streams of water clean”.

“You are to search the world to find

Through ages without end

All the overworked and weary

Who’ve been to man a friend.

You will lift from them their burdens

And give them strength anew

Where no stick shall ever beat them,

My servants old but true”.

“Any owners who have loved them

With raucous bray they’ll greet.

In what better spot than heaven

Should tested old friends meet?”

Then Gabriel said, “Please tell the Lord,

That nothing shall they lack

Who have carried heavy humans

Upon a willing back”.

In such a place it chanced one day

Three donkeys met to graze

And standing ‘neath the leafy trees

Remembered former ways.

Said one, “I vividly recall

The road to Bethlehem.

Three days and nights across the hills

I gladly carried them”.


“But who were they?” the second asked,

Whereat the first beast smiled,

“I heard Joseph call her Mary

And she was great with child”.

“Then it was I”, the second said,

Whom Joseph did employ.

I carried her to Egypt once

To save her little boy”.


They both turned now towards the third,

And asked, “Why look so sad?”

“Because”, cried he, “I still recall

When I was young and glad.

No man had ever ridden me,

A colt, unbroken, wild,

But one Spring day there came a man.

So strong and yet so mild”.


“To Jerusalem from Bethany

He rode me like a king

While cheering crowds palm branches waved

And did Hosanna sing.

It felt so good to have him there.

I would have died for him.

The memories of his majesty

Will never fail or dim”.


“And was he crowned?” one donkey asked.

“Did you his glory see?”

“Not so, alas!” the third replied

“They hanged him on a tree!”

Copyright © 2000 [Rev. C. Champneys Burnham]. All rights reserved.
Revised: May 24, 2018 .