1. Methinks I see an heav'nly host,
Of angels on the wing!
Methinks I hear their cheerful notes,
So merrily they sing,
So merrily they sing.
Let all your fears be banish'd hence,
Glad tidings I proclaim;
For there's a savior born today,
And Jesus is His name,
And Jesus is his name.
2. Lay down your crooks, and quit your flocks,
To Bethlehem repair;
And let your wand'ring steps be squar'd
By yonder shining star.
Seek not in courts or palaces,
Nor royal curtains draw;
But search the stable, see your God
Extended on the straw.
3. Then learn from hence ye rural swains,
The meekness of your God,
Who left the boundless realms of joy
To ransom you with blood.
The master of the inn refus'd,
A more commodious place;
Ungen'rous soul of savage mould,
And destitute of grace.
4. Exult ye oxen, low for joy,
Ye tenants of the stall,
Pay your obeisance, on your knees
The Royal Guest you entertain,
Is not of common birth,
But second to the Great I Am,
The God of heav'n and earth.
5. Then suddenly a heav'nly host,
Around the shepherds throng,
Exulting in the threefold God
And thus address their song.
To God the Father, Christ the Son,
And Holy Ghost ador'd:
The First and Last, the Last and First,
Eternal praise afford,
Eternal praise afford.
William Billings (b. 1746; d. 1800) was an American choral composer, thought by some to be the father of American choral music. His father died when William was 14, and he was forced to drop all formal education and take up tanning to get by. With no formal musical training he began to compose, and his songs were well-loved and traveled quickly. However, due to unsubstantial copyright laws, Billings received hardly a penny from the publication of his music. After a period of fame and prosperity, his music was forgotten, and his last decade was one of decline. Married with six children, he died in poverty, though his music would be resurrected after his death and sung to this day.
Laura de Jong Go to person page >