Vocation Carol: Alexis Cole Shares ‘Rise Up, Shepherd And Follow’ as Free Christmas Download

by Sister Julie Ann on December 10, 2010

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity feature Alexis Cole with family and friends in  ‘Rise Up, Shepherd And Follow’, a vibrant-jazzy call to follow Jesus this 2010 Advent/Christmas Season.

This song is one of many inspirational eclectic arrangements from the Christmas benefit album ‘The Greatest Gift’, a recording which profits World Bicycle Relief.  

Comments from Alexis

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity feature Alexis Cole this Christmas Season on Franciscanized World.

The story behind the arrangement of Rise Up Shepherd and Follow:  I studied Indian Classical singing in Mumbai, India in 1999.  It was my first time outside of the US, what an amazing opportunity!  The sounds of drones and overtones resonated deep within me, and I have been weaving them into my live performances ever since, but never had a chance to record anything in that vein.  I felt that with this spiritual, Rise Up Shepherd and Follow, that it would work, both musically and contextually.  

I love the lyrics of this song.  They really speak to the concept of abandoning ones self to God, leaving everything to follow.  I think the second verse is most powerful: “If you take good heed to the angel’s words, Rise up, shepherd, and follow. You’ll forget your flocks, you’ll forget your herds, Rise up, shepherd, and follow.”  Having the courage to drop everything and go, like the shepherds did, is one of the key lessons of the bible.  

Musically, the Indian drone and tabla beats remind me of wise men on camels, the east, the desert.  At the end of the track I laid down some overtone singing laden with reverb.  Basic overtone singing, or the ability to produce two notes simultaneously, was a skill I acquired just before the final recording sessions of this project.  I knew that track needed one more thing.  I wanted it to add a new dimension, and leave the listener with an other worldly feeling.  

I hope you enjoy it!  Merry Christmas!

Bio of Alexis Cole

Velvet-voiced jazz vocalist Alexis Cole is cited as ‘a rising star in the jazz world’ by Hot House Magazine.  She has been featured on NBC’s NY Morning Show and in magazines  Time Out NY, Downbeat, Jazz Times, Swing Journal, All About Jazz and many more. Radio show host Jonathan Schwartz calls Cole, “One of the Greats.” Her seven releases can be heard on stations around the world.  Cole can often be seen performing both internationally and in NYC’s top venues, Avery Fischer Hall & Dizzy’s Club at Lincoln Center, Smoke, The Oak Room, The Kitano and others.  Jazz Weekly calls Cole’s album The Greatest Gift, ‘A gift to mankind,’ and Cashbox Magazine says that ‘Cole’s soulful voice resonates long after the album has played its final notes.’ Her 2010 release You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To on Venus Records in Japan features Alexis with the internationally acclaimed band One For All.  Also known as Sergeant Cole, Alexis is lead vocalist with the Jazz Knights Big Band at West Point.




Rise Up, Shepherd And Follow Lyrics

There’s a star in the East on Christmas morn,
Rise up, shepherd, and follow.
It will lead to the place where the Christ was born,
Rise up, shepherd, and follow.


Follow, follow, rise up, shepherd, and follow.
Over the hill to Bethlehem,
Rise up, shepherd, and follow.

If you take good heed to the angel’s words,
Rise up, shepherd, and follow.
You’ll forget your flocks, you’ll forget your herds,
Rise up, shepherd, and follow.

10 thoughts on “Vocation Carol: Alexis Cole Shares ‘Rise Up, Shepherd And Follow’ as Free Christmas Download”

  1. Fan says:

    Beautiful song…makes me want to get up and follow Jesus.

  2. Thank you Alexis for sharing this meaningful song with us!!!!

    Your appreciation for the power of the Gospel message, especially in the second verse, speaks to me as a Vocation director in a special way! It is the response so many young women are desiring to give to Jesus, but, like the shepherds, it is difficult to absorb the message. Yet, when one does rise up and begin the journey it will lead to the place where Jesus is; and it will not be what is expected!

  3. Leslie (Postulant) says:

    I think focusing on the sheperd's role in the story is beautiful. Rising up to follow the star at the words of an angel. These humble sheperds were chosen to be the first to see our savior and spread the word through out the world.

  4. Sister Monica (novice) says:

    The music in this song reminds me of what you would hear in a coffee shop, which it's calming ambiance. The lyrics are powerful too.

  5. I agree. Very nice music!

  6. The people who were the first to gaze on the Savior outside the immediate family were representatives of the local business community involved with the environment. You are right, this seems more than an earthy coincidence.

  7. Spamelacatherine - novice says:

    There is a beautiful combination of cultures in this song! First, the very beginning of this song reminds me of the call to prayer within the Islamic faith. The music itself, with its captivating Middle Eastern overtones, is enough to draw the listener, creating a mystical quality, one of beckoning, longing and curiosity. Secondly, there are the lyrics, to “Rise up and Follow” after the star leading to Jesus, encompassing the core of Christian faith. The words themselves are a call to leave all and follow Christ. Finally, the constant hum in the background is reminiscent of the constant draw and pull of God to those whom He is calling. A wonderful song!

  8. Holydiscerner says:

    Re: Alexis's comments, this song really takes you on a journey, helps you understand the power and mystery of the Shepherd's expectations, and God's answer.

  9. This song is a great theme song for the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Novices anticipating a warm train adventure or a long cold car ride at the begining of the new year. Time continues to call for change. God has a means of exciting our curiosity and he bids follow him to new territories and people interactions.

  10. Alexis Cole says:

    Thanks all for the great comments, and special thanks to Sister Mary Ann. I used to live with the Salesian Sisters in North Haledon, NJ, while I was in college, just as a boarder. But I had close interactions with some of the novitiates, and felt their fire of passion resonate within me. There was more than one day when I fantasized about becoming a sister! I love your note :

    “Yet, when one does rise up and begin the journey it will lead to the place where Jesus is; and it will not be what is expected!”

    Indeed… Much love, Alexis

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