Christmas Song Story: Rise Up Shepherd and Foller
The song originated as a spiritual
The text was first published in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine in January 1891.
The song appears in the middle of a story by Ruth McEnery Stuart and takes place at a place called Sucrier Plantation in Louisiana. It is believed Stuart transcribed the song from a real plantation song, rather than creating one herself.
Stuart’s version was set to music by Kate Douglas Wiggin. Some musicologist believes her melody has a resemblance to a traditional spiritual while others believe it is too harmonically and structurally complex to be accurate.
The song was printed in the 1916 Plantation Songs and Other Verse .
Another version appeared in the The Young Woman’s Journal but little is mentioned about the origins except others in the collection were “acquired from North Carolina”. The song is similar to Stuart’s version with minor differences in wording throughout the first verse and an entirely different second verse.
Regardless of it’s origins many regarded it as an authentic spiritual and it has appeared in some hymnals.
The text draws on the account of the shepherds and angels found in the gospels.