On the 4th day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

Four Calling Birds

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.  2 Timothy 3:14-17

The calling birds represent the four Gospels.  But there is no such thing as a calling bird.  The original song as sung in England during the Middle Ages and Tudor era had four colley birds as the gift on the fourth day of Christmas.  A colley bird is one of a number of varieties of blackbird.  But a “calling bird” actually represents the Four Gospels better than a colley bird.  The image of calling out the evangelical message resonates better with the prior than the latter.

During the medieval era starlings were among various types of wild local birds that were kept in cages as pets. Various other types of blackbirds were eaten as food along with other game birds. So the lover’s gift in this case was one of food or a pet.  But whether as pet or provender, the birds were a gift of love.

The four Gospels are “Good News”; they are a gift of love.  The four birds represent the True Love’s gift of His holy Word.  That Word was made incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary.  He lived as one of us, yet without sin.  He fed us with His Body and Blood.  He died that we might be forgiven.  And He rose that we might have new life.  He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  That is truly Good News worth calling out.


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