The book "Run, Shepherds, Run: Poems for Advent and Christmas." is a collection of poems selected and presented by L. William Countryman. He is an Episcopal Priest, and is Sherman E. Johnson Professor in Biblical Studies at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, California. He is also an associate priest at Church of the Good Shepherd in Berkeley. He is a popular speaker, and the author of many books which are listed on the book's cover.
L. William Countryman has assembled this collection of poetry for devotional reading for Advent through Epiphany. His selections include the expected (Christina Rossetti, George Herbert, Emily Dickinson) and some perhaps less expected (Wind in the Willows author Kenneth Grahame, Australians Elizabeth J. Smith and Bruce Dawe). He includes one of his own poems; Going to God with the Shepherds which is used on Dec. 30(page 69). Countryman offers one poem per day and provides a brief introduction for each. He provides Footnotes which aid understanding; for readers previously uncomfortable with poetry, he suggests ways to increase enjoyment. The end material includes brief biographical sketches of the 25 poets whose works he presents.
The title is taken from "The Nativity" by Scottish poet William Drummond (1585-1649). It begins with angelic voices: “Run, shepherds, run where Bethlehem blest appears! We bring the best of news." This poem appears on page 63 for Third Day of Christmas, December 27. The title is enough to draw one in to reading this book and using it on a daily basis.
His thoughtful collection of poems all build on the themes of reflection on the human condition and a deep hope rooted in the birth of Jesus. Through the use of these poems he leads us closer to the real understanding of the seasons – especially as that contrasts with our busyness in life and during this season. And in fact he issues an invitation to read these poems in contrast to what the season has become in order to follow a different more rewarding path as you prepare for the celebration of Jesus' birth.
Some Reviews written by others:
"Here poet/priest William Countryman has forged his two passions into one remarkable volume. He has breathed into Christmastide, from Advent to the Epiphany, an aesthetic reverence that makes of them a sustained whole, a complete oneness of spiritual experience relieved of the emotional ups and downs that all too often distract the heart with the mind's seasonal busyness." -Phyllis Tickle, compiler of The Divine Hours
" This volume contains such a wonderful collection of poems that you're sure to find many to deepen your appreciation and understanding of the Seasons of Advent and Christmas."--Episcopal Life
An After thought question came to me this morning; What poem did he not include that you wish he did and why? What poem did he include that you wish he had not and why?