As a child of Scandinavian heritage, I bought into an ancient Nordic legend—that at the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve, animals talked! Each year I was determined to keep my eyes open until the appointed hour. I could hardly wait to hear one of our beloved family pets wish me “Merry Christmas” with human words. Of course, my little head would begin to nod and I was asleep long before twelve o’clock. I’d have to wait another full year to witness our German shepherd speaking English. One December, when I was finally able to stay awake until midnight, I cornered our scraggly white cat Opal. As much as I chattered on, she refused to converse. Was Opal a stubborn feline or had I been duped by an old wives’ tale?
Years later, this legend came to mind while I was writing poems for my second children’s book. I thought it would be fun to experience the first Christmas through the words of the barnyard animals gathered around the manger. Though the memory of Opal’s verbal deficiency left me forever skeptical, I did remember the directive in Psalm 150:6, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!” I decided to let the gentle creatures in the story praise the newborn king, each in its own language. Enjoy!
Poem from “Zack, You’re Acting Zany!” text © 2009 Marty Nystrom, illustrations © 2009 Steve Björkman. Published by Standard Publishing (www.standardpub.com). Used by permission
About Marty Nystrom
Marty Nystrom is the composer of the worship classic, “As The Deer”. He has written over 120 songs published and recorded by Integrity Music and Maranatha! Music. His children’s books, “Don’t Mess With Moses!”, and “Zack, You’re Acting Zany!” are distributed by Standard Publishing.
He resides in Kenmore, Washington with his wife, Jeanne. They have two adult sons, Nathan and Benjamin, and a grandson, Joshua.
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