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The exact date of Tate’s composition is not known, but the words appeared in Tate and Nicholas Brady’s 1700 supplement to their New Version of the Psalms of David of 1696. It was the only Christmas hymn authorised to be sung by the Anglican Church; before 1700 only the Psalms of David were permitted to be sung. (source)


Lyrics

1. 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.

2. “Fear not!” said he, for mighty dread
had seized their troubled mind.
“Glad tidings of great joy I bring
to all of humankind,
to all of humankind.”

3. “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:”

4. “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.”

5. 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:

6. “All glory be to God on high,
and to the earth be peace;
good will henceforth from heaven to earth
begin and never cease,
begin and never cease!”


Different melody


See also


Extras for Plus Members

  • Song with chords – 2 versions (PDF)
  • 2 MIDI files
  • Listen