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What are the lyrics to ‘While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks’?

Here are the lyrics to the popular carol 'While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks', which dates back to the late 17th century

'While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks' lyrics

Who wrote and composed ‘While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks’?

It is believed Irish hymn writer and Poet Laureate Nahum Tate wrote ‘While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks’ in the late 17th century and it first appeared in the  Tate and Nicholas Brady’s 1700 supplement to their New Version of the Psalms of David of 1696.

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In the UK and Commonwealth it is usually sung to the tune ‘Winchester Old’,  which dates to the late 16th century and was adapted from chapter VIII of composer Christopher Tye’s Acts of the Apostles in 1553. In the USA it is often sung to a a variation on a Handel aria arranged by Lowell Mason.

What are the lyrics to ‘While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks’?

1. While shepherds watched their flocks by night,
all seated on the ground,
an 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 all mankind.

3 ‘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:

4 ‘The heavenly babe you there shall find
to human view displayed,
all simply wrapped in swaddling clothes
and in a manger laid.’

5 Thus spoke the angel. Suddenly
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;
to those on whom his favour rests
goodwill shall never cease.’

Want to play some Christmas carols over the festive period? Buy the sheet music below

Find more lyrics to your favourite Christmas carols here

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