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While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks

This text has been set to many different tunes. Our first version uses the hymnal version of the tune "Winchester Old" for the first and last verses. The middle verses are Renaissance settings of the same tune, first from Richard Allison's "Whole Booke of Psalmes," then from Este's Psalter. [Download the mp3] We've also included the tune "Christmas" by Handel, also often used for this hymn. [Download the mp3] Finally, the classical Christmas page includes Daniel Read's "Sherburne" on the same text. [Download the mp3]

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.

“Fear not!” said he, for mighty dread
Had seized their troubled mind.
“Glad tidings of great joy I bring
To you and all mankind
To you and all mankind.

“To you, in David’s town, this day
Is born of David’s line
A Savior, who is Christ the Lord,
And this shall be the sign,
And this shall be the sign.

“The heavenly Babe you there shall find
To human view displayed,
All meanly wrapped in swathing bands,
And in a manger laid,
And in a manger laid.”

Thus spake the seraph and forthwith
Appeared a shining throng
Of angels praising God on high,
Who thus addressed their song,
Who thus addressed their song:

“All glory be to God on high,
And to the Earth be peace;
Good will henceforth from heaven to men
Begin and never cease,
Begin and never cease!”

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Updated 02/10/2023.