While shepherds watched their flocks by night in G – using various melodies – for choir (ATBB) and piano


It all began with the idea one morning that the “other tune” for Nahum Tate’s carol
“While shepherds watched” is, of course, the Yorkshire ditty “On Ilkley moor bar t’hat”.
Well, as the afternoon progressed, other tunes got added, resulting in a
curious potpourri for choir and piano. The choir gets to sing “On Ilkla Moor”,
the Este psalter tune known to all, and also Auld Lang Syne.
The second voice, in its madrigalian way, gets a sly English cadence!.
Meanwhile, the piano gets some sly references to
“Sing a song of sixpence” and “Scotland the brave”.

I sang it in G on this mp3, to fit my multitrack range, but versions
are available on musicaneo in G (ATBB), C (SATB) (fairly high for the sopranos)
and Bflat (SATB) (fairly low for the basses)

While shepherds watched their flocks by night,
All seated on the ground,
The angel of the Lord came down,
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, in David’s town, this day
Is born of David’s line
A Saviour, who is Christ the Lord,
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.”

Thus spake the seraph and forthwith
appeared a shining throng
of angels praising God who thus
addressed their joyful 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!”

Video of the low voices version: