Tyler Childers - Rustin' In The Rain Album Cover
news

‘Luke 2:8-10’ by Tyler Childers - Lyrics & Meaning

September 8, 2023 11:01 pm GMT
Last Edited December 19, 2023 7:43 pm GMT

t-logo
f-logo
email logo
link icon

Link copied

Content Sponsor

Tyler Childers - ‘Luke 2:8-10’

Label: Hickman Holler Records / RCA Records

Release Date: September 8th, 2023

Album: Rustin’ in the Rain

Producers: Tyler Childers & The Food Stamps

Songwriter: Tyler Childers

The Background:

Tyler Childers has never been afraid to probe topics usually deemed off-limits for country artists, such as racism (Long Violent History), addiction (Country Squire) and the potential pitfalls of organised religion (Can I Take My Hounds To Heaven?).

He revisits the latter on ‘Luke 2:8-10’, one of the stand-out from Childers' 2023 album, Rustin’ in the Rain.

It's the most spiritually-minded track from the project, but instead of returning to the ruminative philosophising of Hounds, the Kentucky native instead opts for a light-hearted, borderline humorous take on the moment a group of shepherds receive an angelic message regarding the birth of Jesus.

In the Bible verse, the shepherds are immediately moved to travel to Bethlehem and “see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about”.

However, Childers zeroes in on what he believes would have been the immediate response from the shepherds, before they gathered themselves and decided to visit Jesus’ birthplace.

As a result, ‘Luke 2:8-10’ is a somewhat playful musing on the panic that might have set in at having just witnessed a messenger of God before their very eyes.

Despite the fearful mantra of the song - “My God, it's the end of the world” - Childers gives ‘Luke 2:8-10’ an overwhelmingly uplifting, jubilant sheen.

In an interview with NPR ahead of the release of Rustin’ in the Rain, he described the track as his take on a nativity play and his ‘Christmas song’, with the singer-songwriter choosing Margo Price to voice the angel in the spoken-word introduction.

The Sound:

As would be expected from any staple Christmas song, ‘Luke 2:8-10’ is given a beatific quality with the introduction of a choral backing midway through the song.

Through a combination of light keys, yearning steel and the burgeoning presence of the choir, Childers builds out the track into a stirring crescendo that feels partly constituted by terror, and partly coloured by a sense of divine wonder.

Childers and his accompanying Food Stamps band pointedly decide to let the opening verses breathe with very little instrumentation, with the sparse feel capturing the uncertainty and hesitance of the shepherds in this interpretation of the Biblical story.

Towards the end of ‘Luke 2:8-10’, the choir are gradually brought to the forefront, to the extent that Childers’ lead vocals are almost drowned out by the angelic euphony. This seemingly symbolises the growing feeling amongst the shepherds that they should listen to the divine news they have just received and visit Bethlehem, rather than holding onto the sense of panic that initially ripples through them.

The Meaning:

“Is it a bird
Is it a plane
Is it perhaps
I’m going insane
From all night abidin’ the field
Look at the thing
Up on the ridge
Whwhwhwhat
D’ya reckon it is
It’s moving, I think it’s on wheels”

After the Bible reading, we join the shepherds as they desperately try and rationalise the divine sighting, with Childers including a tongue-in-cheek - but perhaps anachronistic - reference to the classic comic book phrase (“Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's Superman!”).

“Is it a flame
Hooked to a cart
Come to a whoa
There in the dark
Why in the world would you move such a thing
Lo, enough, hark
I could’ve sworn
I heard a shout
What’s going on
It’s closer, it’s coming our way”

It's interesting that even though Childers is describing the emergence of a divine being, he still frames it in the context of the shepherd's day-to-day lives and his beloved mules, which play such a pivotal role throughout Rustin’ in the Rain.

He once again flexes his lyrical muscles by framing much of his language (aside from the Superman reference) in a Biblical context, through the use of phrases such as ‘Lo’ and ‘Hark’.

“Daniel get up
Gather the sheep
Tell them there’s no
Time to sleep
My God, it’s the end of the world
I’m sore afraid
But I was right
It was a shout
Come from the light
It is a woman on fire with two wings”

As well as proclaiming the immanent “end of the world”, Childers makes a fascinating reference to Daniel. Even though Daniel is a key figure in the Bible, he is predominantly associated with the Old Testament, whereas the verse at the heart of ‘Luke 2:8-10’ appears in the New Testament.

An insignificant detail, or an intentional attempt to bridge two perspectives that are often portrayed as being inextricably linked but somewhat juxtaposing?

We'll leave that one for you to decide.

“And though she burns
It’s seems to me
She’s just as calm
As she can be
Trying to get us to hear what she sings
Daniel get up
Gather the sheep
Tell them there’s no
Time to sleep
My God, it’s the end of the world”

We get some repetition during the final few verses, emphasising how the shepherds are beginning to reassure themselves as to the credibility of the news they have been given. This is reiterated through the description of the messenger, with Childers portraying her as being “just as calm / As she can be”.

Nonetheless, the underlying fear and anxiety lingers, with the final three lines of ‘Luke 2:8-10’ being the prophetic “My God, it's the end of the world”, although with the addition of the euphoric backing choir, this also feels laced with a sense of wonderment.

What has Tyler Childers said about ‘Luke 2:8-10’?

While speaking to NPR before ‘Luke 2:8-10’ was available to stream, Childers explained the inspiration behind the hotly anticipated offering.

“There's a Christmas song, based on Luke 2:8-10: 'Now there were shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night. And then this sentient being popped out the sky and said, "Don't be afraid."' And everybody said OK?" He added, "The song's about the shepherd looking up and just being scared to death”.

The ‘All Your'n’ songsmith also revealed to The New York Times why he chose Margo Price as the voice of his angel, “In my Christmas play, the angel is this strong woman. I was like, ‘That’s Margo’”.

Margo then emphasised how grateful she was to receive the call to record the ‘Luke 2:8-10’ introduction, “As a woman in country music, just having any opinion at all is considered controversial. I’m beyond grateful he has always stood by me”.

For the full lyrics to Tyler Childers’ ‘Luke 2:8-10’, see below:

Spoken

“Luke Chapter 2 Verses 8-10

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 so afraid and the angel said unto them:

(Margo Price) ‘Fear not, for behold I bring tidings of great joy which shall be unto all…’

Sung

"Is it a bird
Is it a plane
Is it perhaps
I’m going insane
From all night abidin’ the field
Look at the thing
Up on the ridge
Whwhwhwhat
D’ya reckon it is
It’s moving, I think it’s on wheels

Is it a flame
Hooked to a cart
Come to a whoa
There in the dark
Why in the world would you move such a thing

Lo, enough, hark
I could’ve sworn
I heard a shout
What’s going on
It’s closer, it’s coming our way

Daniel get up
Gather the sheep
Tell them there’s no
Time to sleep
My God, it’s the end of the world

I’m sore afraid
But I was right
It was a shout
Come from the light
It is a woman on fire with two wings
And though she burns
It’s seems to me
She’s just as calm
As she can be
Trying to get us to hear what she sings

Daniel get up
Gather the sheep
Tell them there’s no
Time to sleep
My God, it’s the end of the world

Daniel get up
Gather the sheep
Tell them there’s no
Time to sleep
My God, it’s the end of the world

My God, it’s the end of the world
My God, it’s the end of the world”

For more on Tyler Childers, see below:

Written by Maxim Mower
Content Sponsor
Post Malone (Reportin’ For Duty) Performance
news

Post Malone Covers Pearl Jam's ‘Better Man’ with Eddie Vedder at Reportin’ For Duty 2024

Lainey Wilson performing at People's Choice Awards 2024
news

Lainey Wilson Performs ‘Country's Cool Again’ Medley at People's Choice Awards 2024

Black and white photo of The Red Clay Strays
news

‘Wondering Why’ by The Red Clay Strays - Lyrics & Meaning

Morgan Wallen witha. backwards cap
news

‘I Guess’ by Morgan Wallen - Lyrics & Meaning