Let my Saviour sleep (website only)

Paul Thompson's carol sees beyond the traditional manger scene. © 2015 Thinkstock UK, a division of Getty Images

Lowly cattle, gathered round,
Let the baby sleep.
Hush now, do not make a sound:
Let the baby sleep.
Wonderful is the sight
In your stable on this night.
Still, until the morning light
Let my Saviour sleep.

Mary, Joseph, standing by,
Let the baby sleep.
You will hold him should he cry;
Let the baby sleep.
Wonderful is the sight
Of God’s son born on this night!
Still, until the morning light
Let my Saviour sleep.

Shepherds, summoned to this place,
Let the baby sleep.
Gaze upon your Saviour’s face;
Let the baby sleep.
Wonderful news this night
Brought you running to the sight.
Still, until the morning light
Let my Saviour sleep.

Wise men, led here by a star,
Let the baby sleep.
Though in faith you travelled far,
Let the baby sleep.
Wonderful is the sight:
Prophecies of old prove right.
Still, until the morning light
Let my Saviour sleep.

Words and music: © Paul Thompson

Download words and music as a PDF

Listen to Paul sing “Let my Saviour sleep” (MP3 audio file)

More information

At first glance, this is a simple lullaby for the newborn baby Jesus. But there is something else here as well.

Paul Thompson “ticks the boxes” that we expect of a Christmas carol. Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and the wise men all put in an appearance. Yet each verse speaks not just of a baby sleeping but also of “my Saviour” sleeping. That repeated phrase, “Still, until the morning light / Let my Saviour sleep”, has a hint of more difficult times to come. It’s as if we are saying: “We know where your life will lead but, for this moment, sleep well, be loved by your mother, and let nothing disturb your innocence.”

"And a sword will pierce your heart," Mary is warned. © 2014 Photos.com, a division of Getty Images

Sung to Paul’s wistful, even melancholy, minor key melody, this is a carol pregnant with awareness of the impending escape into Egypt and, much later, the suffering that Jesus will one day endure in order that he will become “my Saviour”. As we sing “Let the baby sleep”, we are reminded, perhaps, of old Simeon’s words to Jesus’ mother Mary: “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.” (See Luke 2: 22-40)

Paul Thompson is a teacher living in Cheshire. He and his family are members of the Methodist Church in Lymm, where Paul helps run a church music group. He started writing worship songs in 2009 and, since then, a number of them have been used at churches in the Warrington area and been performed on local radio.

Paul writes songs that are of particular value when younger children are involved in worship. See, for example, his song about God-as-Trinity, One, two, three for you and me, and his carol for Christmas and Epiphany, How hard was that journey.
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In We believe – singing the Apostle’s Creed, Paul also explains why he wanted to re-work a great Christian text into more accessible song form.

Categories: Christmas, Hymns only online (submit to stfplus@methodistchurch.org.uk), Thompson, Paul (auth), Thompson, Paul (comp).

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