Friday, April 2, 2010



While learning more about robins after creating Rose & Robin Adornments, I found that there is a Christian fable which attempts to explain why the robin has a red breast. There are different versions of the fable, but their major elements are the same. The robin was originally brown or gray all over. One day he flies by the scene of Christ's crucifixion, and seeing His suffering, tries to remove a thorn or a nail with his beak. A drop of Christ's blood stains the robin's breast, and from that day forward, all robins have red breasts in honor of his valiant effort to help Christ.

Here is a link to a version of the fable.

Here is a link to a longer version of the fable by Swedish author Selma Lagerlof (1858-1940), who was the first female to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature.

A picture book for children has recently been published which is a retelling of the fable; it's entitled, The Story of the Easter Robin, by Dandi Daley Mackall (illustrated by Anna Vojtech).  Here is a link to it on

One other retelling of the fable is a children's book that's entitled, How the Robin Got its Red Breast, by Belva Green (illustrated by Monica R. White).  It was published in 1990.  Here is a link to it on

I am so pleased to have discovered a poem about this fable, which was written by an American churchman, hymn writer, and published poet by the name of George Washington Doane (1799-1859).

Robin Redbreast

Sweet robin, I have heard them say
That thou wert there upon the day
The Christ was crowned in cruel scorn
And bore away one bleeding thorn,--
That so the blush upon thy breast,
In shameful sorrow, was impressed;
And thence thy genial sympathy
With our redeemed humanity.

Sweet robin, would that I might be
Bathed in my Saviour's blood, like thee;
Bear in my breast, whate'er the loss,
The bleeding blazon of the cross;
Live ever, with thy loving mind,
In fellowship with human-kind;
And take my pattern still from thee,
In gentleness and constancy.

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