117. 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.

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

4 “The heavenly babe you there shall find
to human view displayed,
all humbly wrapped in swathing bands,
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:

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!”

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
Scripture: ;
Topic: Christian Year: Nativity/Christmas; Christian Year: Epiphany; Jesus Christ: Birth
Language: English
Tune Information
Name: WINCHESTER OLD
Harmonizer: George Kirby (1592)
Meter: CM
Key: F Major
Source: Este’s Psalmes, 1592
Notes: (alternate tune: CHRISTMAS, 118)


Text Information:

This was one of the first metrical texts to deal with a New Testament narrative rather than paraphrase one of the Psalms. It is set here to a psalm tune that is more than a century older than the words, though the two were not firmly joined until the mid-19th century.


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Audio recording: Audio (MP3)
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