“Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow” is an African-American spiritual first published in Slave Songs of the United States (1867).
Its lyrics are based on the nativity account in the gospel of St. Luke, and in particular, chapter 2, verses 8-9: “There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them.” Throughout, the lyrics urge the listener to leave behind one’s work and to rise up and follow the star of Bethlehem — perhaps an allusion to rising up and following a path to freedom from slavery as well as a direct exhortation to follow Jesus the Savior.
Those familiar with the tune will recognize that it has been altered and adapted for this arrangement, while maintaining the pentatonic scale (plus a flatted seventh) that give the tune its characteristic folk flavor.
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