Advent: Understanding “Go Tell It On The Mountain”

“Go Tell It On The Mountain” is a popular Christmas song, especially for kids. Do you ever stop to think about what it means? Why a mountain? What are we supposed to tell? What does it have to do with shepherds?

The Song (with lyrics)

Go, Tell It On The Mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere;
Go, Tell It On The Mountain
That Jesus Christ is born.

While shepherds kept their watching
Over silent flocks by night,
Behold throughout the heavens,
There shone a holy light:
Go, Tell It On The Mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere;
Go, Tell It On The Mountain
That Jesus Christ is born.

The shepherds feared and trembled
When lo! above the earth
Rang out the angel chorus
That hailed our Saviour’s birth:
Go, Tell It On The Mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere;
Go, Tell It On The Mountain
That Jesus Christ is born.

Down in a lowly manger
Our humble Christ was born
And God send us salvation,
That blessed Christmas morn:
Go, Tell It On The Mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere;
Go, Tell It On The Mountain
That Jesus Christ is born.

[The next two verses are not included in the video above.]

When I am a seeker,
I seek both night and day;
I seek the Lord to help me,
And He shows me the way:
Go, Tell It On The Mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere;
Go, Tell It On The Mountain
That Jesus Christ is born.

He made me a watchman
Upon the city wall,
And if I am a Christian,
I am the least of all.
Go, Tell It On The Mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere;
Go, Tell It On The Mountain
That Jesus Christ is born.

The Shepherds

The verses of this song talk about what happened to the shepherds the night Jesus was born. As you read what the Bible says, pretend you are hanging out in the grassy fields with them and their sheep. Nights are usually pretty quiet for shepherds, unless an animal (like a lion, wolf, or bear) tries to attack the sheep. I bet it’s pretty peaceful back in the green hills and valleys of Israel.

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. [The NIRV Bible explains what this means: “But Mary kept all these things like a secret treasure in her heart. She thought about them over and over.”] And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Luke 2: 8-20 (NIRV)

Go Tell It

  • What did the shepherds do at the end of this passage?
  • Why do you think they did that?
  • How is this the same or different from what Jesus said just before He went up into heaven (see below)?

Then the 11 disciples [not Judas] went to Galilee. They went to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him. But some still had their doubts. Then Jesus came to them. He said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. So you must go and make disciples of all nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And you can be sure that I am always with you, to the very end.”

Matthew 28:16-20 (NIRV)

 

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you. Then you will tell people about me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria. And you will even tell other people about me from one end of the earth to the other.”

After Jesus said this, he was taken up to heaven. The apostles watched until a cloud hid him from their sight.

Acts 1:8-9 (NIRV)

Your Turn

It’s not just the shepherds and Jesus’ 11 disciples who have something special to share. You do too! Jesus said for us to go and tell others about Him.

Today, write down three people you know who either don’t believe in Jesus or you’re not sure what they believe. Put those names somewhere you will see it every day. When you see it, pray for those people. Ask God to give you a chance to tell them about Jesus. Then look for ways to do just that.

Pray also for me. Pray that whenever I speak, the right words will be given to me. Then I can be bold as I tell the mystery of the good news.”

Ephesians 6:19 (NIRV)

For more about the Good News or how to tell others about Jesus, see this post.

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