Far, Far Away on Judea’s Plains
words and music by John Macfarlane, arranged by Alan Sanderson
1. Far, far away on Judea’s plains, Shepherds of old heard the joyous strains:
[CHORUS] Glory to God, Glory to God, Glory to God in the highest; Peace on earth, goodwill to men; Peace on earth, goodwill to men!
2. Sweet are these strains of redeeming love, Message of mercy from heav’n above:
3. Lord, with the angels we too would rejoice; Help us to sing with the heart and voice:
4. Hasten the time when, from ev’ry clime, Men shall unite in the strains sublime:
This song was written in St. George, Utah in 1869 by John Macfarlane. St. George today is a bustling oasis, but at the time it was a struggling desert outpost, 300 miles south of the main body of settlers in territorial Utah. Our Cottam and Jarvis ancestors were among the first group of settlers there, and it is likely that they heard the debut performance of this song. It sets to music the angelic recitation to the shepherds on that first Christmas night near Bethlehem:
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, 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, good will toward men” (Luke 2:8-14).
Everyone in the family except the youngest child participated in this year’s Christmas recording. Johann did most of the string arrangements, and E-Sandy played the drum. I played the guitars and mandolin. A western frontier song really needed an arrangement with guitars and mandolin. If I had a banjo I would have played it too. John Macfarlane was born in Scotland, so it seemed appropriate to add the drum as well.
The entire production was done in Ardour 5.12 running on Linux Mint 19.3. Plugins included Dragonfly Reverb, compressors and limiters from Linux Studio Plugins, 5-band EQ from Calf Studio Gear, and the Virtual Playing Orchestra running in sfizz.
Merry Christmas, everyone!