Wednesday, March 3, 2010


I suspect it’s not just me, though I could be wrong, who goes through ebbing and flowing of faith. Gratefully, like the vast oceans of the earth, my testimony never completely leaves. But it does have its tides. Sometimes I move through my humanness with such peace and confidence in all I’ve learned about God that I feel his hand tucked into the small of my back, sort of like Libby when she helped our mom up the stairs when she was still walking but her back was giving out.

Other times I wonder who I am, and why I do what I do, because I am not particularly fond of it all.

There is one thing, however, that never seems to change, regardless of the position of my tide. I believe without a doubt that Jesus Christ is the master of this world, and the only way to return to my heavenly home when I am done here. I think I came with that belief, and it never left the way so many other childlike things do. I cannot express adequately how grateful I am for this gift. Lots of peripheral beliefs have their comings and goings, but not this one.

Every Sunday I go to church. I get myself cleaned up and put on those danged stockings, gather up my teaching supplies and head out…for years with a gaggle of children in tow. We sit in our seats in the back, because we are always just a wee bit late, and we sing the songs from the hymnbook and bow our heads for the prayers and try to pay attention to each speaker. All of that is fine. But the most essential part of the whole 3 hour block is the ten minutes of silence that follow the Sacrament prayers. I can gauge my spiritual health by what those ten minutes do to me. Sometimes I just let it pass: I chew and swallow the bread and wash it down with the water. Not the best of times. But other times, when I allow my soul to be still, I feel my teeth crushing the bread and I imagine the crushing in Gethsemane. I let the water sit on my tongue and fall down through my throat, like the blood from the spear-wound fell to the earth, like the watery blood of His pores covered His flesh in the garden.

I was in this place when I wrote Who Is This Babe. I felt His hand in the small of my back.

Pondering the people who are said to have attended the birth of the Savior, I wrote this song from the perspective of a shepherd  girl who came to the stable. She had some questions:
Who is this baby, and why is he here in a stable instead of home in a cradle, and why is his mother not in her bed? Why are these other people here…why am I here…and what is it that makes me feel like I should kneel right now?

Verse II tells the story of how the shepherds knew about the baby. The star appearing, the angels visiting, the wonderful sounds of angel choirs. I imagined the shepherds caught in the rapture of the music, taking out their flutes and cymbals and tambourines and dancing along there on the hillside. It was a sweet image to me.

In verse III the shepherd finds her faith. Like me, before the sacrament table, she accepts the reality of what will happen, as I accept the beauty of what did happen. She prays for this child to feel peace, knowing that life itself brings sorrow, but unaware at that time how deep the sorrow would be.

The B section, the part where the music sounds like a chorus, but the lyric changes as the song progresses (thus, it is a B section instead of a chorus…songwriting symantecs)…the B section at the end of the song is my testimony.

Come lay your souls now at this stable

No gilded robes here, where He is laid

King of the World, Power of the Heavens

Comes to the earth, comes as a babe.

I am touched that the King of Kings would choose to come the same way all of us did, as a baby. That He walked the path we all walk, though sinless in the journey, so He could say He knows our suffering. He did not come into a castle, with royal servants taking care. He came in the most humble of all places, to the most humble of all people; the only pageantry being a band of angels who sang with dancing shepherds.

I remember the first time I sang this for someone. This is always a very difficult thing for me, singing a new song for someone. I first sang it for Merlyn, and for Mom and Libby when they were over visiting. I sat on the couch in the family room at the old house (what would songwriting be without a couch?). I got choked up at that last B section. We all sat there and bawled. They too, are believers. I still get choked up at that part. The music rises, which beckons that sort of thing anyway, but the honesty of the lyric as it sits in my personal life is what reminds me. I am speaking to myself, and to those I love. Come with me, I say, come with me and see this baby. He is going to change our lives. And He has.

Who is this babe laid in a manger

Why have these men come to adore him?

What is that glow shining around him

What makes me fall humbly before him

Where is his home, where is his cradle

And why has his mother no place to sleep

Here is my cloak, make her a pillow

Soft with the warm wool of my sheep.

Who made the star up in the heavens

Break through the night, wake from their dreaming

Shepherds afar, to Bethlehem driven

Wrapped in the light and glorious singing

Angels come down, tell of a savior

Wonderful sounds ring at his birth

We take our flutes, cymbals and tambourines

Join with the choir, heaven and earth

Peace to this boy, sleep little stranger

There will be joy and there will come sorrow

But through this night rest in your manger

Make us your home until tomorrow

Come lay your souls now at this stable

No gilded robes here, where he is laid

King of the World, Power of the Heavens

Comes to the earth, comes as a babe

Halleluia, Oh Halleluia

Here with these shepherds, here he is laid

King of the World, Power of the Heavens

Comes to the earth, comes as a babe.

You can hear WHO IS THIS BABE, and other songs from these blog posts, in the music player you'll find if you scroll down.


  1. i can see that you will be emotionally, mentally and physically spent when this "lenting" is over. I suppose the one thing you will not be is spiritually spent.

    i just hope i can hang onto your coat tails as you fly!