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Guard Him, Joseph

About the Song

We have been blessed with four babies in our family–though they’re certainly not babies anymore! It was during the times when they actually were babies that I learned to appreciate their dad the most. He was so patient with them and with me, spending as many hours up with them at night as I did… probably more. I was thankful for the help, and even more thankful for his obvious love for them.

How grateful Mary must have been for the support and care of her husband Joseph, who was called on to act as the earthly father of the Savior, and to love the Child as his own. That thought prompted the lyrics of this simple song one day as I was Christmas shopping and listening to Pachelbel’s “Canon in D” on the store’s muzak system. The first two lines of harmonic pattern and melody are loosely based on that canon, and the tenor/bass duet accompaniment and obbligato borrow from it.

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Recording featuring vocals by Allyse Smith Taylor:

Accompaniment track:

Recording featuring vocals by James Loynes:

Accompaniment track:

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Lyrics

Guard him, Joseph, as He slumbers,
There behind the stable doors
Let no errant sound distress Him,
Tread thou softly on the floor
Linger watchful round the manger;
Hush thy voice and still the beasts
For thou hast within thy keeping
Christ, the infant Prince of Peace

Guard Him, Joseph, through the darkness;
Watching o’er Him till the dawn
Bid the shepherds enter meekly,
Stand in wonder, gaze in awe
Trim thy lamp and shield thy candle;
See they burn all through the night
For thou hast within thy keeping
Christ, the everlasting Light

Guard Him, Joseph, from all danger;
Keep thy vigil nigh His bed
Let no harm nor grief befall Him;
Stand thou in a father’s stead
When his mother’s arms be weary,
Hold Him gently as thine own
For thou hast within thy keeping
God’s own well-beloved Son.

If you have questions, please check the FAQ
If you don't find your answer there, feel free to post your question here. 🙂

28 Comments

  1. Sylvia Bourne

    Sally,thankyou for your sweet emphasis of Joseph’s vital role in God’s plan for Christ’s earthly life. This little song is
    precious ! It fills my longing to have Joseph recognized as being completely trusted by Heavenly Father to be the perfect role model for the Savior! Our relief Society sisters, are preparing it to sing in sacrament meeting on Dec.8th
    The ” highlight of the # ” I feel, will be the second verse . “Mary,” holding her newborn son, will implore ” Joseph,”[standing by them] to watch o’er Him thru the darkness, with ready lamp and candle.She asks him to host the quiet visit of the shepherds. acknowledging the tiny Prince of Peace. Recently, the main actor in this “musical spotlight”
    was given his earthly name & blessing by his daddy. [Joseph] His mommy [Mary]had styled & knit his teeny blue cap & sweater ! These 3,will don humble appropriate nativity outfits, for ” mother’s debut as soloist.” Daddy will hold the wee one throughout the 3rd verse. When I called to ask this favor of “Mary,” she was thrilled & so was I.
    The true spirit of Christmas will be felt, I am sure, through our simple harmonious rendition of your sweet song.Our sincere love and thanks to you Sally. “Happy Christmas” from us all here in Lethbridge Alberta Canada !
    and thanks to you Sally. “Happy Christmas” dear girl.

    Reply
  2. Summer L.

    I absolutely love this song! I have it on repeat over and over, and have been waiting this whole year to use it (I found it too late in the season last year). I had thought I saw a version for only men singing, but on looking closer must have mistaken the vocal for the sheet music. I’m preparing our Stake Christmas Fireside, and I would loved to have a men’s chorus sing this. Is there already one you have arranged that others have used, or will one be released for this upcoming Christmas 2019 Season? Thank you so much for your talents and that you share them freely with us to use, you are such a blessing to bring such beautiful music filled with the spirit!

    Reply
  3. Tom and Maureen Beecroft

    Canada here. We are not LDS but have used many of your songs in our worship, this one especially for my husband (a minister in the United Church of Canada, as well as pastoring in a Disciples of Christ Congregation) to sing together. Two of our granddaughters are singing ” If I Had Been in Bethlehem ” at a fundraiser for the homeless shelter in our town. We have also used that song in a Christmas Eve drama. Thank you for transcending denominations with your lovely music. Praise to God knows no boundaries.

    Reply
    • sallydeford

      Thank you so much, and amen! Happy Christmas!

      Reply
  4. Kristi Meyers

    Help! I am trying to find a TB or TTBB Christmas piece for our ward social in less than two weeks. I hear the TB duet of this song on the “Listen”, but I don’t see a TB Duet on the Downloads. Do you have a TB Duet download for this song or any other Christmas songs? I only see female/baritone. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Rosalind Draper

      Like others, I would like a men’s trio or even a duet to sing Guard Him, Joseph at our Christmas sacrament meeting program. I have printed 4 of the arrangements, but they all seem quite difficult to make into all men’s voices. Do you have any suggestions as to the one that might work best?

      Reply
  5. Margie Fowler

    Hello Sally, I was a choir leader some years ago in northern CA. I wrote several times to you then for help. We had moved back to AZ after retirement and have a had several calling since that move. I have now been called again to be the choir leader and am working on the upcoming Christmas program.
    I have downloaded the Personal Composer but just can’t seem to figure out how to get the music for Guard Him Joseph into a duet for men. Have you been asked about doing this song for men only to sing? Or do you have something on file you can share with me. Don’t lose any sleep over this! Just wanting to know if you do have something ready, or would it be easy for you to do it.
    Love your music and your willingness to share it with all of the world. Thank You in advance for your help!
    Margie Fowler

    Reply
  6. Melanie Janus

    I just love you… Ryan is playing accompaniment on this piece New Years Eve Sacrament meeting. We miss you.

    Reply
    • sallydeford

      Miss you back! <3

      Reply
  7. Laura

    I’ve been playing your “Guard Him Joseph” arrangement that was in the Ensign YEARS ago. My copy is so worn and my eyes are so worn that I can hardly read it. I can’t find that simple Treble, Bass clef arrangement anywhere? Only the ensign copy on LDS.org seems to exist and when I print it, it is BLURRY!!

    If a good clean copy of that version exists somewhere can you please tell me where? All 8+ versions on your site are different arrangements for vocal and instrument numbers.

    I LOVE THIS SONG with all my soul. Thank you for writing it and sharing your talent for so many years for all of us. I LOVE your music.

    Reply
    • sallydeford

      Hi Laura. The version you want is marked “Simplified Solo”, and it’s linked up there in the “Sheet Music Downloads” section. 🙂

      Reply
  8. Valerie

    I love this song, but wish there were a TTBB arrangement for a men’s small group choir to sing at Christmas. Any chance you could throw that together?

    Reply
    • David Camp

      I’m with Valerie on this one. I’d like to see a TTBB arrangement. What a beautiful song and what a tribute to Joseph.

      Reply
      • Rebekah Tiberend

        Yes! I’d love to see a bass solo arrangement for it too. That would be amazing!

        Reply
        • A Cochenour

          I am looking for a TTBB arrangement also. Even just a TB. Any chance it is to be found this year? I look elsewhere for arrangements as our ward choir director but keep getting brought back here. You have such a gift. Thank you for sharing so freely.

          Reply
  9. Talya Escobar

    I first sang this song with our stake choir in Guatemala City in Spanish and it was awesome! I’m not sure if someone translated the words but I have in hand, a copy of your sheet music with the vocals printed in Spanish. Is a Spanish copy available on your website?

    Reply
  10. Lindsey Jergensen

    Do you have violin accompaniment to Guard Him Joseph? This is one of my favorite Christmas songs and I am planning on singing it in church in December!

    Reply
    • Kathryn Wood

      Oftentimes the flute arrangement works just as well for violins since they are both C instruments. I think it would sound lovely!

      Reply
  11. Virginia Judkins

    I am hitting a problem with the SATP pdf version . On page 4 the top line ends abruptly, like it is missing a measure. The line goes “For thou hast within they keeping, Christ the Everlasting” then it goes into the accompanyment instead of giving the lyric “light”. Can you help me? We want to sing this for our ward choir. THANKS

    Reply
    • sallydeford

      All fixed. Thanks!

      Reply
      • Virginia Judkins

        Thank You!

        Reply
  12. Bruce Grembowski

    Sally,
    I wanted to thank you for sharing your talent with all of us. Our new ward choir director just picked this for us, and I simply love the music and lyrics. It is such a joy to play and sing your music. I am always happy when I look at new music in choir and it has your name on it.

    Regards,
    Bruce

    Reply
  13. Shannon

    Would it be OK for our ward choir to slightly change the presentation of the 3rd verse of “Guard Him Joseph” (the arrangement that is adapted from “Canon in D”)? Instead of “oohing,” we would have the sopranos sing the melody with the altos, using the “oohed” note. I wanted to make sure this change would fall under the “adapting” for choirs explanation under FAQS.

    Reply
    • Sally DeFord

      Oh goodness yes… you are very conscientious! Good luck with it. 🙂

      Reply
    • Kristina Larsen

      Just wondering if there is the Cannon in D version in pdf? I just have an old paper copy.

      Reply
  14. ronald

    To GOD be the glory! For this wonderful song…. I am not a musician nor a singer but through the Holy Spirit I was able to embrace the music and its message…

    Reply
  15. Viola

    I love this music!!! I would like to sing it as a solo for high female voice… I love the words, it sounds like Mary asking Josef all those things for keeping Jesus safe…

    Reply
  16. Betty Hargreaves

    This song is beautiful. The YW in our ward are going to sing it for our Christmas program.

    Reply

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