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To Shepherds as They Watched by Night

Representative Text

1 To shepherds as they watched by night
appeared a host of angels bright;
"Behold the tender babe," they said,
"In yonder lowly manger laid.

2 "At Bethlehem in David's town,
as Micah did of old make known.
It is the Christ, your Lord and King,
who will to all salvation bring."

3 O then rejoice that through his Son
God is with sinners now at one;
made like yourselves of flesh and blood,
your brother is th'eternal God.

4 What harm can sin and death then do?
The true God now abides with you.
Let hell and Satan storm and rave,
Christ is your brother — you are safe.

5 Not one he will or can forsake;
his promise he will never break.
Let ev'ry scheme the tempter try,
you may his utmost pow'rs defy.

6 You shall and must at last prevail;
God's own you are, you cannot fail.
To God forever sing your praise
with joy and patience all your days.

Source: Christian Worship: Hymnal #335

Author: Martin Luther

Luther, Martin, born at Eisleben, Nov. 10, 1483; entered the University of Erfurt, 1501 (B.A. 1502, M.A.. 1503); became an Augustinian monk, 1505; ordained priest, 1507; appointed Professor at the University of Wittenberg, 1508, and in 1512 D.D.; published his 95 Theses, 1517; and burnt the Papal Bull which had condemned them, 1520; attended the Diet of Worms, 1521; translated the Bible into German, 1521-34; and died at Eisleben, Feb. 18, 1546. The details of his life and of his work as a reformer are accessible to English readers in a great variety of forms. Luther had a huge influence on German hymnody. i. Hymn Books. 1. Ellich cristlich lider Lobgesang un Psalm. Wittenberg, 1524. [Hamburg Library.] This contains 8 German h… Go to person page >

Translator: Richard Massie

Massie, Richard, eldest son of the Rev. R. Massie, of Goddington, Cheshire, and Rector of Eccleston, was born at Chester, June 18, 1800, and resides at Pulford Hall, Coddington. Mr. Massie published a translation of Martin Luther’s Spiritual Songs, London, 1854. His Lyra Domestica, 1st series, London, 1860, contains translations of the 1st Series of Spitta's Psalter und Harfe. In 1864 he published vol. ii., containing translations of Spitta's 2nd Series, together with an Appendix of translations of German hymns by various authors. He also contributed many translations of German hymns to Mercer's Church Psalter & Hymn Book; to Reid's British Herald; to the Day of Rest, &c. He died Mar. 11,1887. -- John Julian, Di… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: To shepherds as they watched by night
Title: To Shepherds as They Watched by Night
German Title: Vom Himmel kam der Engel Schar
Author: Martin Luther
Translator: Richard Massie
Language: English
Copyright: Public Domain



PUER NOBIS is a melody from a fifteenth-century manuscript from Trier. However, the tune probably dates from an earlier time and may even have folk roots. PUER NOBIS was altered in Spangenberg's Christliches GesangbUchlein (1568), in Petri's famous Piae Cantiones (1582), and again in Praetorius's (P…

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Initially Luther used the folk melody associated with his first stanza as the tune for this hymn. Later he composed this new tune for his text. VOM HIMMEL HOCH was first published in Valentin Schumann's Geistliche Lieder in 1539. Johann S. Bach (PHH 7) used Luther's melody in three places in his wel…

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The Cyber Hymnal #6867
  • Adobe Acrobat image (PDF)
  • Noteworthy Composer score (NWC)
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Instances (1 - 4 of 4)
TextPage Scan

Christian Worship (1993) #53

TextPage Scan

Christian Worship #335

TextPage Scan

Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary #154


The Cyber Hymnal #6867

Include 12 pre-1979 instances
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