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The Lone Shepherd

[Cyril Tawney]

Cyril Tawney sang The Lone Shepherd and in 2002 on the brilliant anthology Bah! Humbug: The Alternative Christmas Album. Ian Green noted in its booklet:

This song was written by Cyril 40 years after There Are No Lights on Our Christmas Tree. The idea for this song about the one shepherd who was not “seated on the ground” on that night of nights had been cluttering up Cyril’s brain for several years before this project of Ian Green’s spurred him on to get down to actually writing it. Thanks to Cyril for providing us with two songs for this collection. Not previously recorded.


Cyril Tawney sings The Lone Shepherd

If I’d been seated all on the ground
Last night when glory it shone all around
I’d be below now with the rest of them
Not up here freezing on the heights of Bethlehem.

It sounds so stupid in the light of day
But nature’s call I found I must obey
So when that angel bright his moment chose
He caught me vertical instead of in repose.

My eyes were dazzled, I stepped back with shock
I turned my ankle on a well-placed rock
Now I’m immobile, which is why you’ll find
They’re down their at their ease, while I the flocks do mind.

They’ve just got back now, and I’ve heard it all
Of this holy infant in an ox’s stall
Of myrrh and frankincense and even gold
I missed the whole damn lot, as well as catching cold.

But on reflection it occurs to me
My whole misfortune it was meant to be
There was an inn attached, and inns have wine
And self-denial, well, that’s no strong point of mine.

He knows my weakness, and it’s my belief
He planned that moment when I sought relief
For smooth fulfilment of the prophecies
No place for tosspots at nativities.

He’d want no boozy breath, or belching gut
No drunken choruses all full of smut
No sacred air defiled by bawdy jokes
Or shepherds throwing up on wise men’s costly cloaks.

Too late for ‘sorries’, that’s a certain bet
When you reel sideways and the crib’s upset
And no point bending knee to genuflect
If once you’re down there you need help to stand erect.

Ah yes, I see now my bad luck was meant
Such dire calamities to circumvent
As it is now, so shall it ever be
He with his wondrous ways moves most mysteriously.