The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

The Shepherds In Judea

Words: Mary Austin

Source: Christmas: Its Origin, Celebration and Significance as Related in Prose and Verse - Robert Haven Schauffler (1907)

Oh, the Shepherds in Judea,
    They are pacing to and fro,
For the air grows chill at twilight
    And the weanling lambs are slow!

Leave, O lambs, the dripping sedges, quit the bramble and the brier,
Leave the fields of barley stubble, for we light the watching fire;
Twinkling fires across the twilight, and a bitter watch to keep,
Lest the prowlers come a-thieving where the flocks unguarded sleep.

Oh, the Shepherds in Judea,
    They are singing soft and low—
Song the blessed angels taught them
    All the centuries ago!

There was never roof to hide them, there were never walls to bind;
Stark they lie beneath the star-beams, whom the blessed angels find,
With the huddled flocks upstarting, wondering if they hear aright,
While the Kings come riding, riding, solemn shadows in the night.

Oh, the Shepherds in Judea,
    They are thinking, as they go,
Of the light that broke their watching
    On the hillside in the snow!—

Scattered snow along the hillside, white as springtime fleeces are,
With the whiter wings above them and the glory-streaming star—
Guiding-star across the housetops; never fear the Shepherds felt
Till they found the Babe in manger where the kindly cattle knelt.

Oh, the Shepherds in Judea!—
    Do you think the Shepherds know
How the whole round earth is brightened
    In the ruddy Christmas glow?

How the sighs are lost in laughter, and the laughter brings the tears,
As the thoughts of men go seeking back across the darkling years
Till they find the wayside stable that the star-led Wise Men found,
With the Shepherds, mute, adoring, and the glory shining round!

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