The Shepherd’s Carol

It sets the scene for us, taking us into the moment and the lives of the first to hear the message…

We stood on the hills, lady, our day’s work done, watching the frosted meadows that winter had won. The evening was calm, lady, the air so still, silence more lovely than music folded the hill. Then was a star, lady, shone in the night, larger than Venus it was and bright, so bright. Oh, a voice from the sky, lady, it seemed to us then telling of God being born in the world of men.

Based upon a poem written near the turn of the twentieth-century, the Shepherd’s Carol is a traditional stalwart in the Lessons and Carols lineup. It tells the story of the proclamation to the shepherds on the night of the Christ-child’s birth. It sets the scene for us, taking us into the moment and the lives of the first to hear the message.

Though less familiar for us in this country, the poetry of this song draws us into the well-known narrative in a new way. From the weariness of the shepherds to the silence on the hill, the story is once again new as the tune gently carries us into its tale.

Then comes the final verse, which, like many Christmas hymns, speaks to how we might connect. But in this case, though speaking in the first person, it is still the shepherd’s voice we hear. While they were the “unwanteds” in their own time, we pray that we might be so blessed as they were to hear this message of hope, of love, of life.

And so we have come, Lady, our day’s work done, our love, our hopes, ourselves, we give to your son.

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