Friday, December 19, 2014

Sing Christmas: Dec 19

While shepherds watched their flocks by night,
all seated on the ground,
the angel of the Lord came down,
and glory shone around.

"Fear not," said he, for mighty dread
had seized their troubled mind;
"Glad tidings of great joy I bring
to you and all mankind.

"To you, in David's town, this day
is born of David's line
a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord;
and this shall be the sign:

The heavenly Babe you there shall find 
to human view displayed,
all meanly wrapped in swathing bands,
and in a manger laid."

Thus spake the seraph, and forthwith
appeared a shining throng
of angels praising God, who thus
addressed their joyful song:

"All glory be to God on high
and to the earth be peace;
good will henceforth from heaven to men
begin and never cease."

Nahum Tate (1652-1715)

This carol was one of the earliest to receive official approval by the Anglican Church after the Reformation. Hymns not drawn directly from Bible texts were regarded with suspicion, but this follows Luke’s account of the Nativity very closely, so it was permitted. We usually sing it to “Old Winchester”, but it was often sung to “Old Foster” – the choir will be singing this setting at the carol service on 21st Dec at 6.30pm – or “Cranbrook”, better known today as “Ilkla Moor Baht 'at.”

Shepherds were important economically and symbolically to Israel; both Moses and King David had been shepherds and God was often likened to one. However, shepherds were often regarded as rather disreputable, unable to keep the rituals and practices a good Jewish person should as they moved around with their flocks and lived in the open. It’s no accident, therefore, that they feature in the story of Christ’s birth. Their presence at the manger crib points forward to the kind of ministry Jesus would have among people marginalised by his society, and the value he placed on them.

·         The angel says “Fear not”. What do you think the shepherds were afraid of?
·         Who do you think would least expect to hear that the Good News was for them today, and would struggle most to believe it?

Bible Reading: God will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep. Isaiah 40.11

No comments:

Post a Comment