Advent, Day 22

He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.

—Isaiah 40:11 (KJV) (cf. Micah 5:2–5a, today’s lectionary reading)

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

—Matthew 11:28–30 (KJV)

LOOK: Good Shepherd mosaic, Ravenna

Good Shepherd (Ravenna)
Christ the Good Shepherd, 5th century. Mosaic from the tomb of Galla Placidia, Ravenna, Italy. Photo: Fr. Lawrence Lew, OP.

[Related post: “Love, My Shepherd” (Artful Devotion)]

LISTEN: “He Shall Feed His Flock” | Text: Isaiah 40:11; Matthew 11:28–30 (KJV) | Music by Georg Frederic Handel, 1742 | Arranged and sung by Tara Ward on Adventus by Church of the Beloved, 2010

He shall feed his flock
Like a shepherd
And he shall gather
The lambs with his arm
With his arm

He shall feed his flock
Like a shepherd
And he shall gather
The lambs with his arm
With his arm

And carry them in his bosom
And gently lead those
That are with young
And gently lead those
And gently lead those
That are with young

Come unto him
All ye that labor
Come unto him
Ye that are heavy laden
And he will give you rest

Come unto him
All ye that labor
Come unto him
Ye that are heavy laden
And he will give you rest

Take his yoke upon you
And learn of him
For he is meek
And lowly of heart
And ye shall find rest
And ye shall find rest
Unto your souls

Take his yoke upon you
And learn of him
For he is meek
And lowly of heart
And ye shall find rest
And ye shall find rest
Unto your souls

Born out of a group of friends’ reading of Life of the Beloved by Henri Nouwen, the Church of the Beloved in Edmonds, Washington, was active from 2006 to 2019. It had a vibrant music ministry, led by Tara Ward, that put out four albums, including Adventus. One of the tracks on Adventus is Ward’s slow, ambient, synth-driven arrangement of “He Shall Feed His Flock,” an air from Handel’s Messiah. Charles Jennens, the librettist (lyricist) of the oratorio, combined passages from Isaiah and Matthew to evoke a sense of the deep soul-rest and care that Christ proffers. Church of the Beloved’s rendition so beautifully captures the weariness we often feel, whether we’re on a spiritual path or not, and is a gentle reminder that Christ is always calling us back into his bosom.

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