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Shepherds and Stars ~ by Stanton Lanier, (Copyright 2012, Stanton Lanier, not to be re-published without permission)
“The aim and final end of all music should be unto the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.” – Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 – 1750)
In arranging and composing for December Peace, my heart was to offer God’s peace and rest through a distinctive collection of traditional and original piano melodies. Johann Sebastian Bach, my all-time favorite composer, once said, “The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.” In tribute to him, the album opens with his timeless music known as Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.
When my parents didn’t let me quit piano lessons in 7th grade, I had no way of knowing that one day I would create my own arrangement of this world-renowned melody. Bach’s legacy of glorifying God and refreshing souls lives on, as Jesu is performed at weddings around the world nearly 300 years after its composition.
“There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them… saying, “Today… a Savior has been born to you.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” – Luke, 60 A.D.
In the fullness and busyness of the Christmas season, these words taken from Luke 2:8-15 give me reason to pause on Christmas Day. They inspired one of my favorite original compositions titled Shepherds and Stars, which expresses the heart of December Peace. Close your eyes and visit the scene. See the moon and stars shining, hear the sounds of fields at night, smell the aroma of dew and sheep… Imagine seeing the angel, announcing the Savior’s birth, and then the night sky filling with countless angels speaking of glory to God, and peace to men.
As I reflected on this story, here are two things I noticed:
1. The shepherds decided the event described to them was worth a visit. As you listen for God’s gentle whisper, what activity is He inviting you into?
2. We are all “shepherds in the field” living out daily life. God wants us to have encounters with Him. He wants to speak into our lives. Will you be intentional to watch for Him?
During this stressful and busy time of year, remember to pause on Christmas Day. Listen for God’s gentle whisper. Watch for His activity. Behold His glory. Refresh in His presence.