The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Carol IX. The Shepherds' Song

 

When Bethlehem's Shepherds Home Returned

For Christmas

Words: Anonymous.

Music: Old Ballad

Source: Christmas Carols, or Sacred Songs, Suited to the Festival of our Lord's Nativity (London: John William Parker, 1833), pp. 46-51.

 

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them."—Luke ii. 20.

When Bethlehem's shepherds home returned, 
With joy their hearts within them burned, 
For to their eyes, in David's town, 
Was Christ, the new-born Saviour, shown : 
Then into words their transport broke, 
And fancy pictures how they spoke.

" Praise the Lord, who us defends, 
And his 'Shepherd David' sends, 
His 'Shepherd David,' as of old 
By his prophet's lips foretold ! 
Faithful shepherd of his sheep, 
Watch and ward shall David keep!

" He his thirsty flock shall show 
Where the tranquil waters flow : 
In the meadows green to feed, 
He their willing steps shall lead: 
And from storm and nightly cold, 
In his pen securely fold.

" He the ravening beast of prey 
With his staff shall drive away; 
With his crook the weary seek, 
Cheer the faint, support the weak; 
And convey the sheep that roam 
Joyful on his shoulders home.

" Gently he shall lead the dams, 
Teeming with the tender lambs ; 
In his arm the young with care 
Raise, and in his bosom bear; 
Nurse the sickly, lift the lame, 
Know, and call them all by name.

" Praise the Lord, who us defends, 
And his 'Shepherd David' sends ; 
His 'Shepherd David,' as of old 
By his prophet's lips foretold ! 
Faithful shepherd of his sheep, 
Watch and ward shall David keep !"

Such, we deem, the shepherds' strain, 
As they sought their fold again ; 
Such the strain like them we raise, 
Sung in Christ our Shepherd's praise; 
Who came his erring sheep to guide, 
For them he lived, for them he died.

Yes, to bless his sheep, this morn 
The "Good Shepherd" Christ was born, 
Yes, his life, the sheep to save, 
Freely the "Good Shepherd" gave; 
And when he shall next appear, 
To his Father's house shall bear.

There perennial waters flow, 
There unfading pastures grow ; 
There shall one united fold 
All his sheep assembled hold, 
And his countless flock among 
Shall evermore this strain be sung :

" Praise our God, your anthems raise, 
And the sheep's 'Great Shepherd' praise ; 
Praise him, who us that Shepherd gave, 
Praise him, who died his flock to save ; 
Blessing, honour, glory, power, 
To our God for evermore !"

Sheet Music from Source: Christmas Carols, or Sacred Songs, Suited to the Festival of our Lord's Nativity (London: John William Parker, 1833), pp. 48-51.

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