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The Shepherd's Song (1889)

(BY "DUM SPIRO SPERO")

[The following poem has been awarded the prize of 25 offered by the proprietors of the
Town and Country Journal for a Prize Poem Competition. The award was made on March 23.
The author's name and address is, G. Spencer Briggs, Rose Farm, Allora, Queensland.]

Quick, boys; roll up the blankets and saddle up the nags ;
No time to lose to-night, my boys; so buckle up the swags ;
At home are many waiting ; we've many miles to tramp,
Ere we get back from shearing. So, quick, break up the camp.

The hut's all in a bustle ; billies, pint pots strew the floor ;
And half a dozen rolled-up swags are blocking up the door ;
The rouseabouts, the shearers, and saucy tar-boys gay,
Are getting ready for the road ; all haste to be away.

From many homes are many eyes now watching many tracks ;
And many hands are burning to clasp Harry's, Tom's, and Jack's,
Many husbands, sons, and brothers are spurring on the way,
For it is Christmas Eve to-night ; tomorrow's Christmas Day.

And many are the meetings upon this joyous night ;
And many are the greetings while tear filled eyes glow bright ;
As they welcome home the loved ones from many a far-off run,
When Johnny's home from shearing, and father's fencing's done.

Right welcome, Father Christmas a hundred thousand times,
Though in this land thou comest not with merry belfry chimes ;
The voices of the children make our music just as sweet,
For they tell us in a minute our dear ones we shall greet.

Right welcome, Father Christmas; the children welcome thee,
As, open ey'd, they dauce around the glistening Christmas tree ;
And wifely clasp, and mothers hug, and sweethearts' blushing kiss,
Shall bid thee royal welcome, thou harbinger of bliss.

Right welcome, Father Christmas ; see the old folks at the door
Who welcome thee as heartily as in the days of yore ;
Though sight may fail, and hearing's dull, and hair is changed to gray,
They joy in all the blessings thou bringest them to-day.

The moon is waning, but the stars shed down their holy light ;
And "Peace on Earth" seems mingled with the star-beams chaste and bright ;
"Good Will to Man" 's borne on the breeze ; the gum trees catch the song ;
And, whispering it to the wattles, they sing it all night long.

The flocks are sleeping peacefully ; safe sheltered in the fold,
So slumbered they beneath the trees in Juda's land of old,
And here again the earth seems still a listening ear to bring,
And breathless waits again to hear those "herald angels" sing.

But with the morning sun will rise the grand old chant once more,
When heavenly hosts and sons of men their triumph songs shall pour ;
From every bird , and every flower, and every Christian home,
Incense of prayer and praise shall rise up to the Great White Throne.

The shepherds kept their watch by night ; beneath His own bright star ;
Beneath His cross in Southern skies, we shearers watch afar ;
"Unto us a Son is born" they raise Isaiah's song,
"Unto us a child is given," we Isaiah's notes prolong.

A blessed Christmas time to all, and happy may they be,
The rich, the poor, the great, the small, the prisoner and the free ;
And each Australian household sitting round the evening lamp,
When Johnny's home from shearing, and father's in from camp.

Notes

From the Launceston Newspaper the Colonist Sat 6 Apr 1889 p. 30.

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australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory