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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. 🙂

17 Comments

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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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