Robbie Robertson’s Christmas gift to his new son Sebastian during the sessions for Northern Lights-Southern Cross album… it never became a seasonal favorite but it should have been. It wasn’t released until the Islands album in 1977.
Rick Danko sings this song from a Shepherds point of view. It’s pure and down to earth like only the Band can be. No sleigh bells or other Christmas trappings…just pure music. Maybe that is the reason it never got picked up.
Robbie Robertson re-recorded this song after he left the group. And he did for the soundtrack of Bill Murray’s Scrooged. That version is very good but I still like The Bands version much more…it’s hard to beat Rick Danko.
Christmas Must Be Tonight
Come down to the manger, see the little stranger
Wrapped in swaddling clothes, the prince of peace
Wheels start turning, torches start burning
And the old wise men journey from the East
How a little baby boy bring the people so much joy
Son of a carpenter, Mary carried the light
This must be Christmas, must be tonight
A shepherd on a hillside, where over my flock I bide
Oh a cold winter night a band of angels sing
In a dream I heard a voice saying “fear not, come rejoice
It’s the end of the beginning, praise the new born king”
I saw it with my own eyes, written up in the skies
But why a simple herdsmen such as I
And then it came to pass, he was born at last
Right below the star that shines on high