Christmas Shepherds

Sometimes a turn of phrase can bring a fresh perspective on the familiar.

That is what Charlotte Mason’s poetry has done for me this season.

Ponder, for a moment, these descriptions of the shepherds’ experience on the night of Christ’s birth:
“The stillness seemed to them portentous . . .”

“The whispered hope afloat among the hill-folk . . .”

“Shall He, also, be a Shepherd King, Who knows His folk by face, as we our sheep . . .”

“Worshipping, they fell before that mystery . . .”

“Humble before, humbled they went away . . .”

Such insightful glimpses into the nativity story and into Charlotte’s heart of love for her Savior!

Enjoy the whole poem below. Read it slowly. Read it thoughtfully. Read it often during this week. I think it will contribute much to your having a blessed Christmas time.

The Shepherds at Bethlehem

Now there were shepherds in the field that night,
To watch their flocks; the stillness seemed to them
Portentous, every star an omen: awed
By the silence, they held solemn talk;
Talk of Messias, and the whispered hope
Afloat among the hill-folk—how one John,
A prophet of the Highest, had been born,
And he should go before Messias; how, here,
In Bethlehem, should Christ come; so spake the seer,
And all men knew that here was David’s city.
“And shall He, also, be a Shepherd King,
Who knows His folk by face, as we our sheep,
And calls each by his name; who shelter finds,
And pasture, for His flock, and leads them forth?
Ah, might we live to see the promised day!
But who are we? Our place is far apart
From any pomp of kings!”

And as they spake,
Behold, a sudden glory filled the night;
An angel stood beside them; said, “Fear not,
Good tidings of great joy, I bring to you—
To you and to all people; this day is born
To you in David’s city, Christ the Lord!”
The shepherds held their peace, nor yet could speak
For joy and consternation; so answered them
The seraph, knowing their thought: “and this the sign
Which shall confirm to you these mighty News—
In swaddling clothes, and in a manger laid,
A Babe shall ye find.”—Whereat a multitude
Of the heavenly host now saw they with that one,
And these all sang together, praising God:—
“Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth
Peace and goodwill to men who bear goodwill!”
And, chanting still that chorus, they went up.

Prostrate upon the ground the shepherds lay,
Trembling with joy and fear: then, “Come,” said they,
“Let us go even now to Bethlehem
And see the thing the Lord God hath made known—
That He should send great News to such as we!”

They came with haste, and found the Infant lying
In a manger, as was told them; and with Him
Mary and Joseph; and worshipping, they fell
Before that mystery—Messias, born
A Babe in this poor place, with none to welcome,—
Save only the Sons of God shouting for joy!

Humble before, humbled they went away;
And told their tale to all who cared to hear;—
“The Christ, in sooth, is come—in such poor state
As might the child of beggar at the gate;
But seraph spake with us, and glory shone,
And multitude of angels joined in song!”
The people marvelled at the shepherds’ tidings;
Some talked and soon forgot, and some remembered;
But Mary kept these sayings in her heart,
Compared with other times an angel came,
And pondered day by day these mysteries.
The shepherds returned—even as the angels went—
Praising their God for all the wondrous things
Had been vouchsafed to them to see and hear.

from The Saviour of the World, Vol. 1, “The Holy Infancy”
by Charlotte M. Mason