The Bird of Good Hope

Interesting old books at Books Online, a wonderful free service. In Routledge’s Christmas Annual from 1872 there’s a Christmas story called “Aidan of the Cows.” What’s that about?

It’s about a young woman named Aidan who has herds of the choice cows producing the best milk and cheese in the village of St.Koatsven in a Distant Land near the shore of a distant sea.

Unfortunately, Aidan falls on bad times because the young man she loves spends her fortune til all her cows are sold to moneylenders.

Christmas morning Aidan wanders sadly down a meadow near the sea and  hears a robin singing:

“ She listened with amazement, with fear and trembling,  with a fearful joy, because the bird sang in human speech.
“I am Robin Redbreast,” he sang, ” the Bird of Good Hope, I am much endowed among birds. For in ancient times when He was toiling up the heavy hill bearing the bitter Cross, I, moved by Heaven, alighted on His head, and plucked from out His bleeding brow ONE thorn from the cruel crown that bound his temples. One drop of His blood bedewed my throat as I stooped to the blessed task, and the blood-drop dyed my breast in a hue of glorious beauty for ever.”

Aidan listened with all the ears of her heart.
“In remembrance of what I did, a poor foolish bird! this blessing was laid upon me—that once  every year, on Christmas-eve, I should be empowered to give a good gift to the first maiden, good but unhappy, who should put her foot upon the herb Marie, as you, Aidan, have done.”

The girl looked down. Her foot was lightly- pressing the pretty little yellow trefoil plantret, which is called the herb Marie. “As you have done, Aidan of the Cows,” the robin repeated with a confident chirrup.

Of course, Aidan got her cows back and even her repentant young man, whom she marries and they live happily ever after.

The author ends the tale remarking that this all took place in a Distant Land. “ In the land that is close by us nothing of the kind takes place.”

But we know that it does. And so,  may the Bird of Good Hope, speak to you today.

2 thoughts on “The Bird of Good Hope

  1. Fr. Richard cp

    Victor, Thank you for the charming story. A Very Merry Christmas and God’s many blessing in the New Year. Richard cp


  2. Gloria

    This is a wonderful story. I love birds, but Robins are my favorite because I have raised some very helpless little ones that fell from their nests. I named the first one Peepers and he grew into a beautiful adult that I taught to fly. He used to perch on my shoulder, his takeoff spot and fly to the clothes dryer for starters until he was brave enough to fly up to the tall locust. He also liked
    to perch on my shoulder as I walked around the backyard. He was my gift from God.


    I love to watch their bouncy walk
    and I wonder why they walk so much
    when they can fly,
    but I should know better
    because they can only catch worms
    if they walk in the grass
    put their ears to the ground
    and listen.

    If there’s such a thing as reincarnation
    (I hope not – once around is enough)
    I’d love to come back as a robin
    because they’re lively and colorful
    friendly and sociable
    their song is beautiful
    and they can FLY!

    Gloria Ziemienski


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