Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow

On this Christmas Eve, I wanted to share with you a favorite hymn of mine, an African American Spiritual called “Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow (the star of Bethlehem).”  Do you know it?

Like the more known, “Go Tell it on the Mountain,” the song was passed down orally by slaves and sung at services on a plantation before emancipation. It is a Christmas Hymn that focuses more on devotion and discipleship. Most Christmas Hymns are about awe and wonder.

In the typical African American Spiritual style, known as the call and response format in which the leader sings and the choir responds.   

What did it mean for the slaves who wrote this spiritual to follow the star in Bethlehem?

According to Luke 2:8-20, the Shepherds dropped everything and left their flocks at night to go to Bethlehem.

What does it mean for us today to rise up and follow the star? I do not have a flock to leave behind, but I oftentimes think about the work I do and how I can pass along this song of hope to others.  In a way, this blog is part of my commitment to help people focus on their faith journey and give hope during the busiest times of the year.

What does this song mean to you?

Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow

There’s a star in the East on Christmas morn,
Rise up, shepherd and follow!
It’ll take you to the place where the Savior’s born,
Rise up, shepherd and follow!
If you’ve taken good notice to the angels’ words,
You’ll leave your flocks and leave your herds,
And rise up, shepherd, and follow!
Leave your sheep,
And leave your lamb,
Leave your ewe,
And leave your ram,
And rise up, shepherd, and follow!

Refrain:

Follow, follow, follow, follow,
Rise, O sinner, rise and follow,
Follow the Savior of Bethlehem.

The King’s Singers version of “Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow”

“I’ve been thinking about what I’d like to give you this Christmas.  I’d really like to give you something that just fits your own wishes and needs the way these shoes just fit me.  I suppose the thing I’d like most to be able to give you is hope.  Hope that through your own doing and your own living with others, you’ll be able to find what fits for you in this life.”

Mr. Rogers, 1977

Shared by Marcie Doll

Published by marciedoll

I have enjoyed working for over 20 years in the education and publishing spaces creating accessible learning environments for all students. My teaching experiences led me into supporting schools in need of improvement and creating and delivering professional development to teachers and leaders. And then I moved into selling educational materials, programs, technology, and services. Most recently, I have been developing content for innovative learning programs in K-12 and museum spaces. For the past 17 years serving on the board of the Collegiate Corporation, I have led initiatives in women's leadership, stewardship, development, virtual strategy, and educational programs for youth and families. Outside of the learning and non-profit spaces, I enjoy blogging about faith and inspiring women. I have a passion for travel, where you might find me exploring national parks, museums, and finding the best local restaurant to eat. I capture my adventures digitally with my camera. My photography has appeared in exhibitions throughout Europe and Australia in 2019 and 2020, on television in the United States, and was chosen from over 100,000 entries to appear in a well-known photography magazine.

3 thoughts on “Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow

  1. I first heard this sung by Sister Thea Bowman, a Franciscan nun and talented musician who died very young of cancer. Her performance was electrifying. Her ministry of love and faith to people of all walks of life is an inspiration to me. She’s my role model. Look for the video of her life story; it’s well worth it. Merry Christmas to all.

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