118. While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks

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1 While shepherds watched their flocks by night,
all seated on the ground,
the angel of the Lord came down,
and glory shone around,
and glory shone around.

2 “Fear not,” said he, for mighty dread
had seized their troubled mind:
“Glad tidings of great joy I bring
to you and humankind,
to you and humankind.

3 “To you, in David’s town this day,
is born of David’s line
the Savior, who is Christ the Lord,
and this shall be the sign,
and this shall be the sign:

4 “The heavenly babe you there shall find
to human view displayed,
all humbly wrapped in swathing bands,
and in a manger laid,
and in a manger laid.”

5 Thus spoke the seraph, and forthwith
appeared a shining throng
of angels praising God, who thus
addressed their joyful song,
addressed their joyful song:

6 “All glory be to God on high,
and to the earth be peace;
good will to all from highest heaven
begin and never cease,
begin and never cease!”

Text Information
First Line: While shepherds watched their flocks by night
Title: While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks
Author: Nahum Tate (1700, alt.)
Publication Date: 2013
Meter: CM with repeat
Scripture: Luke 2:8-14; Romans 1:3
Topic: Christian Year: Nativity/Christmas; Christian Year: Epiphany; Jesus Christ: Birth
Language: English
Tune Information
Name: CHRISTMAS
Composer: George Frederick Handel (1728)
Arranger: Lowell Mason (1821)
Meter: CM with repeat
Key: D Major
Notes: (alternate tune: WINCHESTER OLD, 117)


Text Information:

The publication of this text in the late 17th century marked an important moment in the transition from the older practice of psalm-singing to the newer style of hymn-singing. This tune was not originally written for church use but was derived from an operatic aria.


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Audio recording: Audio (MP3)
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