The Seventh Carol of Christmas

        We've all heard the popular question, "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it still make noise?" Many and varied are the answers given, both lighthearted and scientific, and anyone's intuition can answer the question simply, however, one child's answer has always been my favorite. In a nature magazine question forum where one child asked the question another answered saying, "but of course it makes noise because God is always there to hear it." This simple answer struck me. We can come up with scientific retorts all we want but in the end, the question is non-existent because God is always present to hear every tree that ever falls.

 John Rutter is probably my favorite contemporary choral composer. Last year I shared with you all my favorite of his Christmas works, "What Sweeter Music," and this year I thought I'd share another very high on my list, "The Shepherd's Pipe Carol."
   
    In this lively song, the narrator speaks of hearing a shepherd boy merrily caroling on the way to Bethlehem. He asks the boy why he sings so merrily since no one will hear him, but the boy replies that though none will hear him, he will continue to carol as it will be a lullaby for the newborn King. The identity of the narrator is then revealed as one of the Shepherds in the scriptural account as he then asks for permission to accompany the boy to Bethlehem since He was met by Angels in the fields telling him to seek out a newborn King.
  I love the message brought by Rutter....in the words of the Shepherd boy,

 "None may hear my pipes on these hills so lonely
on the way to Bethlehem;
but a King will hear me play sweet lullabies
when I get to Bethlehem."

     How many things, I wonder do we do solely for Christ's ears? When we sing extra loudly in Church, do we do it because we love God or that we hope the terrible singer next to us will be awed by our magnificent voice? When we help out our neighbor do we do it because we love God and are thankful for all He did for us, or do we do it because it makes us feel and look good? The question is, my friends, would the knowledge that God alone saw and approved of our action be enough to motivate us to do it? It's something to keep in mind this Christmas season. After all in the end God's opinion of us is the only one that's really going to matter!

My favorite version of this is actually sung by King's College choir in their 1992 recording of lessons and carols which they do annually on Christmas eve....if you want to look it up on youtube, this carol comes around at roughly 50:00. However, for this purpose enjoy this rendition by John Rutter's own choir, The Cambridge Singers. Below are the verses though not necessarily in the order sung! 

Going through the hills on a night all starry
on the way to Bethlehem,
far away I heard a shepherd boy piping
on the way to Bethlehem.

Angels in the sky brought this message nigh:
"Dance and sing for joy that Christ the newborn King
is come to bring us peace on Earth,
and he's lying cradled there at Bethlehem."

"Tell me, shepherd boy piping tunes so merrily
on the way to Bethlehem,
who will hear your tunes on these hills so lonely
on the way to Bethlehem?"

"None may hear my pipes on these hills so lonely
on the way to Bethlehem;
but a King will hear me play sweet lullabies
when I get to Bethlehem."

Angels in the sky came down from on high,
hovered o'er the manger where the babe was lying
cradled in the arms of his mother Mary,
sleeping now at Bethlehem

"Where is this new King, shepherd boy piping merrily,
is he there at Bethlehem?"
I will find him soon by the star shining brightly
in the sky o'er Bethlehem."

"May I come with you, shepherd boy piping merrily,
come with you to Bethlehem?
Pay my homage too at the new King's cradle,
is it far to Bethlehem?"

Angels in the sky brought this message nigh:
"Dance and sing for joy that Christ the infant King
is born this night in lowly stable yonder,
born for you at Bethlehem."
 

Let us all go with the Shepherd boy this Christmas and worship Christ born for us in Bethlehem.

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