Close up of shepherds in a nativity scene with lambs. Text over the top: Shepherd, leave your watch and field (a poem inspired by Luke 2:8-16) Faith in Grey Places

Luke 2:8–16: Shepherd, leave your flock and fold (a poem) (with pictures)

‘But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.’  

Micah 5:2 (NIVUK)

Today’s reading is Luke 2:8–16, the story about the shepherds coming to visit Jesus. 

Skip to the poem

Edited to add: I’ve now created a picture version of the poem, using images from Unsplash — image credits are in a collection I’ve curated there.

I’ve often heard it said that the heavenly invitation to the shepherds was God’s way of showing inclusion with the marginalised. This may well be true, but it’s also true that Jesus was the good shepherd in a way fore-echoed by David (also a shepherd) centuries earlier. 

And, of course, Bethlehem was David’s town. 

So for today’s poem I wanted to focus not just on the shepherds coming to Jesus but also on Jesus as a shepherd. 

It’s possible the shepherds were out in the fields because it was the lambing season. Though we can’t know this for sure, it makes things all the more remarkable if they left their flocks to go and see Jesus. I was even reminded of the parable of the lost sheep, where the shepherd leaves the 99 to go and find the 1. 

Also, while Christians often talk of Jesus as the ‘lamb of God’, I associate that image with Jesus as an adult. Because it’s an image associated with his sacrificial death. However, at Christmas, he was a lamb in the sense of being a youngling.

So yes, today’s poem focuses on the shepherds, but it’s also a call to people today to find Jesus. 

And because it’s Christmas I decided it’d be worth adopting a strict rhyme and meter. So here it is – and you can sing it to the tune of Hark the Herald Angels Sing if you want.

Happy Christmas!

Shepherd, leave your flock and fold

Shepherd, leave your flock and fold,
Find the lamb from times of old:
Shepherd king, on David’s throne,
God’s anointed cornerstone.
See the child now laid on earth,
Heaven’s prince and hope’s new birth,
He will bring all nations peace,
And his reign will never cease.
Shepherd, hear the angels call,
Find the lamb, the Lord of all.

Cold the night and dark the skies,
God has heard your lonely sighs.
Rise, look up, and do not fear,
Now your comfort has drawn near.
See the light from Ephrathah,
Bethlehem’s bright morning star,
Dawn for all who walked in shade,
Born that all might learn his ways.
Shepherd, hear the angels call,
Find the lamb, the Lord of all.

Late the hour and small the flame,
Yet for you, the Christ child came.
Do not linger at the cost,
Seek the one who seeks the lost.
He will give the weary rest,
Pastures green and waters blessed,
Wolves will hunt and harm no more,
All will worship and adore.
Shepherd, hear the angels call,
Find the lamb, the Lord of all.

Bible references: mainly Luke 2:8–16, but also:

  • Psalm 23:2
  • Psalm 118:22, Mark 12:10, Luke 20:17, Ephesians 2:20, 1 Peter 2:6–7
  • Isaiah 9:2
  • Isaiah 9:6–7
  • Isaiah 11:1–6
  • Isaiah 40:1, 52:9
  • Isaiah 65:25
  • Micah 5:2
  • Matthew 11:28
  • Luke 15:1–7
  • Luke 12:35–36

Photo by Dan Kiefer on Unsplash

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