~* WHILE BY OUR SHEEP *~
(also known as "How Great Our Joy")
German Carol
Translated by Theodore Baker, 1851-1934

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
Luke 2:20

It was a clear night. The stars twinkled above, and an air of peaceful serenity settled calmly over the field outside Bethlehem. The fire was burning low as the shepherds sprawled out to rest among their sheep. Suddenly they were blinded by a brilliant light! They cried out in fright and hid their faces on the ground. The powerful voice of a heralding angel shared news they listened to in rapture: the blessed announcement of the long-awaited Messiah! How great was their joy!

Have you ever wondered why these simple shepherds without wealth, power, or social status were the first to receive Heaven's glorious message? Prophecy foretold that salvation would be offered first to Israel. Thus the Hebrew shepherds were allowed to adore the Saviour before the arrival of the Gentile wise men, who arrived at a house and visited "the young child" according to Scripture. Yet the shepherd were chosen to receive this eternally great announcement before a truly godly priest named Simeon as well! Perhaps the humble shepherds were chosen to receive the heavenly message because God wanted to send His only begotten Son to be associated with the seemingly unimportant of this world rather than among the leaders, the wise, or the wealthy. God knew that these lowly shepherds would receive His news of salvation with open hearts, and they would return with great joy to share what they had heard and seen.

[JMS: and who better to tell of the birth of the Lamb of God than shepherds?]

Originating as it does from 17th Century Germany, this vivid description of the birth of Christ reminds us of the various lands and cultures that have provided our many lovely carols, giving us a rich musical and spiritual heritage.



While by the sheep we watched at night,
Glad tidings brought an angel bright.
How great our joy! Great our joy!
Joy, joy, joy! Joy, joy, joy!
Praise we the Lord in Heav'n on high!
Praise we the Lord in Heav'n on high!

There shall be born, so He did say,
In Bethlehem a Child today.
How great our joy! Great our joy!
Joy, joy, joy! Joy, joy, joy!
Praise we the Lord in Heav'n on high!
Praise we the Lord in Heav'n on high!

There shall the Child lie in a stall,
This Child Who shall redeem us all.
How great our joy! Great our joy!
Joy, joy, joy! Joy, joy, joy!
Praise we the Lord in Heav'n on high!
Praise we the Lord in Heav'n on high!

This Gift of God we’ll cherish well,
That ever joy our hearts shall fill.
How great our joy! Great our joy!
Joy, joy, joy! Joy, joy, joy!
Praise we the Lord in Heav'n on high!
Praise we the Lord in Heav'n on high!



*For Today*: Isaiah 40:11; Jeremiah 31:10; Luke 2:8-20

Take your place with the shepherds when the heavenly announcement was given. Move with them to the manger and worship in awe. Return with the song of His praise on your lips (hear the gentle echo in the night's stillness). Share your joy with others!

Music url: The Cyber Hymnal

Taken from Amazing Grace -- 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions © Copyright 1990 by Kenneth W. Osbeck. Published by Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Return to Hymn Devotionals Index


Caleb's Country Corner *_*

The Christian Counter