29 December 2009

One of the Greatest

new Christmas hymns in our LSB is by Jaroslav Vajda, set by Carl Schalk:

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.

In that unlikely place I find Him as they said;
Sweet new born 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.

How should I not have known Isaiah would be there,
His prophesies 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.

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!
LSB 369

Here's a beautiful presentation of it (yeah, I know it's performed by Mormons; but it is musically well done - and the hymn was written by a Lutheran and the composition by a Lutheran):


Paul said...

We'll be using it as our hymn of the Epiphany season:)

Pastor Peters said...

Hey, did you get that from my blog? :)

Pr. Lehmann said...

I like the text, but I can't seem sing it. :-(

William Weedon said...

I remember you wrote on it, Fr. Peters. Did you also link the Youtube setting? I can't remember.

Dan Grams said...

We sang this pxmas eve in Garfield to the new choral setting by Joseph Herl (your friend and admirer).

William Weedon said...


I didn't even know Joe had written a setting of it! I'll have to check that one out. Please give my greetings to all the good folks of Garfield - so many beautiful memories worshipping there in one of the most beautiful churches of the LCMS. You must let them know we sang "Cas Radosti" (in English...) this past Sunday! My love also to your dear mother.


Randy Bulthuis said...

here is a response to Pastor Peters blog that my good friend and teacher John Matthews wrote I thought you would enjoy it.
John W. Matthews, Jr. said...
Dear Pastor Peters,

Thank you for your eloquently written thoughts regarding Vajda's "Where Shepherds Lately Knelt." This beautiful Christmas hymn, unknown to Grace Lutheran Church, Columbus, Indiana until about 7 years ago has now become as beloved a Christmas hymn as many others that came before it. First introduced by Cantors singing it during the Offering, the congregation now hums the tune as I play an introduction for all to sing it. Dr. Norman Nagel spoke a great truth when addressing the subject of new additions to our rich heritage of hymns and liturgy. I thank God for gifted poets in our day such as Jaroslav Vajda and Stephen Starke.

I thought I would share a little more background on this hymn, having researched it for hymn festival bulletins a few times over the years. Vajda sought to express that central historical event in a new and fresh way. In so doing, he placed himself at the manger bed and "reviewed the implications of that visit in my life and future and in that of my fellow human beings." Vajda, I believe, was concerned about the increasingly routine (and secularized) commemoration of an event whose “impact on God's heart” remains the means of our salvation. I now quote Vajda's last sentence in his essay on this hymn, "I pictured myself at the opposite side of the event from Isaiah and his prophecy (9:6, 7), applying the same promise to myself as a late-arriving pilgrim." The entire text is profoundly moving, and I find the third stanza to be especially so.

Let us celebrate each season of the year with the old and new hymns alike, giving thanks for the generous way in which God has gifted poets throughout the centuries to express His praise.

John W. Matthews, Jr.
Director of Music and Organist
Grace Lutheran Church
Columbus, Indiana