Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Run, Shepherds, Run, a 17th century poem

William Drummond was a Scottish poet who lived at the time when William and Mary Barrett Dyer and William and Anne Marbury Hutchinson were children and adults. They would not have known Drummond, but reading his poetry shows us the type of literature to which they were exposed during their lives. 

Attributed to Abraham van Blijenberch.
William Drummond of Hawthornden, 1585-1649.
Scottish National Portrait Gallery

This 1623 poem is religious in nature, but surprisingly, not of a Presbyterian (similar to Puritan) theology. It was written from a more episcopal (Church of England) perspective. 

Run, Shepherds, run where Bethl’em blest appears,

We bring the best of news, be not dismayed:

A Saviour there is born, more old than years

Amidst Heaven’s rolling heights this earth who stayed;

In a poor cottage inned, a Virgin Maid,

A weakling did Him bear, who all upbears,

There is He poorly swaddled, in a manger laid

To whom too narrow swaddlings are our spheres:

Run, Shepherds, run, and solemnize His birth.

This is that night−no, day, grown great with bliss,

In which the power of Satan broken is;

In Heaven be glory, peace unto the Earth,

Thus singing through the air the angels swam,

A cope of stars re-echoed the same.

William Drummond

from Flowres of Sion

William Drummond (13 December 1585 – 4 December 1649), called "of Hawthornden", was a Scottish poet.

Our Dyers and Hutchinsons did not celebrate a Christmas holiday. It wasn't part of their religious beliefs to do so. But 400 years later, we do celebrate Christmas, whether as a secular day of family, food, and gift-giving, or as a holy day of thanks to God, or somewhere between. Whatever camp you fall into, I wish you a wonderful season of peace, prosperity, health, fellowship, and joy. I wish you a "cope of stars." 

William & Mary Dyer: A 17th-century Christmas (

William & Mary Dyer: “Purifying” the customs and fun of Christmas (