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

The Winter Solstice 2018

Good Evening Friends!

On this the shortest day of the year:

We all have winters in our lives;
Darkness fills our world,
Fear is present,
We have a longing for companionship,
Our struggles seem insurmountable,
We feel a sadness that abounds,
Some will forsake us,
Geography can make us feel isolated,
Apart from those we love,
And we will be separated on our journeys.

While you may not in the midst of winter value the “winter” moments, but they help us to look for something to endure and hope again. And appreciate the good times more. For me, I always turn to music with harmonies that defy.

Winter will end, hope will return and you will find a way…as Christ was born for us on a new day.

The King’s Singers version of “Born on a New Day”

Shared by Marcie Doll

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In the Bleak Midwinter

For so many, the darkest days of the year that lead up to December 21st, the first day of winter are bleak.  Last night, I watched coverage about a massive snow storm in Romania and the rainy weekend the Northeast endured where many are wondering when the rain will end.

My Sunday was spent in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area shopping with a friend, laughing all the way and attending a wonderful children’s Christmas Concert at a local church.   The children sang their hearts out!  And then there were the angels.  Oh! How they lit up the stage in their wings and waved to the audience of family and friends.  Exactly what our angels are supposed to do in our lives, make us feel like we are valuable and protected.

On our drive back to my hotel, I kind of forgot the bleakness I oftentimes see this week of darkness.  It was strangely a spectacularly beautiful day here in the Twin Cities with a balmy temperature of 48 degrees.  And the sunset had some of the most fabulous colors I have seen in the week leading up to the shortest day of the year.  Hoping that you have one of those days soon!

So, if you have one of those bleak midwinter days, listen to this.  Susan Boyle’s voice somehow makes the day better.

Listen to Susan Boyle singing “In the Bleak Midwinter.”

1. In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

2. Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty,
Jesus Christ.

3. Enough for Him, whom cherubim
Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk
And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Which adore.

4. Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air,
But only His mother
In her maiden bliss,
Worshiped the Beloved
With a kiss.

5. What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart.

Shared by Marcie Doll