For a long time I have been telling people that new hymns are always being written (not just contemporary Christian songs) and that many of these will become the classics of some future day. I cannot help but melt my heart before the creche every time I sing Jaroslav Vajda's wonderful words and Carl Schalk's magnificent melody: Where Shepherds Lately Knelt. We sang it Christmas Day as the recessional hymn and I cannot think of a more wonderful statement to carry home with you from the worship on our Lord's Nativity.
Where Shepherds Lately Knelt
1 Where shepherds lately knelt and kept the angel’s word,
I come in half-belief, a pilgrim strangely stirred;
But there is room and welcome there for me,
But there is room and welcome there for me.
2 In that unlikely place I find Him as they said:
Sweet newborn babe, how frail! And in a manger bed:
A still, small voice to cry one day for me,
A still, small voice to cry one day for me.
3 How should I not have known Isaiah would be there,
His prophecies fulfilled? With pounding heart I stare:
A child, a son, the Prince of Peace for me,
A child, a son, the Prince of Peace for me.
4 Can I, will I forget how Love was born, and burned
Its way into my heart—unasked, unforced, unearned,
To die, to live, and not alone for me,
To die, to live, and not alone for me?
As Norman Nagel once wrote so eloquently, "We are heirs of an astonishingly rich tradition. Each generation receives from those who went before, and, in making that tradition of the Divine Service its own, adds what best may serve in its own day -- the living heritage and something new." Now with Jerry gone to be with the Lord, I am ever more mindful of those who have added the best of this day to that rich and wondrous tradition received from those who have gone before.
If you do not know this wonderful hymn (and anthem), listen here. Tell me its words and music have not imparted to you the wondrous hope that is this season!
So we sing the old, learn the new, and pass on to those to come the best to guide them as they add to this rich deposit their own contribution... all for the glory of the Lord and the service to his Gospel...