While Mary Sleeps

A Christmas Song for Fathers: “The Hero of Christmas”

This story was submitted by a friend who was affected by the painting “While Mary Sleeps”. You can read other comments on the painting’s web page.

Jim McFerson felt strongly enough about my painting While Mary Sleeps to write a song about it. Below I included the story behind the song, edited from an email he sent me on 30 December 2013, and the lyrics. Jim also sent me the lead sheet for the song, which is still in development. I played it and love it. When it is finished I will try to feature it here.

I also included my response to his story below.

-Lester Yocum

First Message

Hi, Lester,

The first time I saw your painting “While Mary Sleeps” in a painting contest, I was very touched. I am the father of five children and have ten grandchildren plus one more due in January. I love babies! I appreciated the way you depicted Joseph just like any other father doing his fatherly duties. I believe that Joseph has never received the proper credit he deserves for his major role in the birth and upbringing of Jesus. Being an amateur song writer with about ten church songs to my credit, I decided to write a song about Joseph entitled “The Hero of Christmas.” In my opinion, although Jesus is the meaning of Christmas, Joseph is the hero of Christmas because of his active role in the Savior’s birth and as his teacher, mentor, and foster parent.

The lyrics tell the story:

The Hero of Christmas

by Jim McFerson (2013)

What if Mary were alone
When it came time to give birth?
To the king who needs no throne
To the sacred Savior of the earth

Mary was the perfect choice
To be mother of God’s son
Joseph kept a silent voice
Knowing nothing of what had begun

When his Mary showed with child
Joseph suffered shame and scorn
But his fears were reconciled
When an angel told him who’d be born

Chorus
Who was the hero of Christmas?
Who played a prominent role?
Who was the shepherd of Mary?
Who was this sensitive soul?
Who was the hero of Christmas?

Joseph helped her on the way
Found her shelter at the inn
Where the ancient prophets say
Jesus’ mortal mission would begin

Joseph loved the precious lad
Treating Him as if his own
Serving as His faithful dad
Raising Him ‘til He was fully grown

Chorus
Who was the hero of Christmas?
Who played a prominent role?
Who was the teacher of Jesus?
Who was this generous soul?
Joseph, the parent of Jesus

Joseph’s royal pedigree
Might have made him Judah’s king
But his love of family
Was by far the most important thing

Joseph was the chosen one
To be mentor to the Lord
The great service he has done
Will one day earn him a great reward

Chorus
He is the hero of Christmas
He played a prominent role
He adored Mary and Jesus
He is a glorious soul
Joseph, the hero of Christmas

Lyrics copyright © 2013 James McFerson, jamesmcferson@gmail.com

My Response

Jim,

I am honored. I would never have imagined that someone would create a song based on one of my paintings. I am continually amazed at the impact it has.

I love the concept. When you come down to it, Joseph was the one chosen by God to protect and raise The Son, so he would definitely qualify as the hero of Christmas. Marvelous thought; well done.

-Les