My favorite Christmas carol as a child was “While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night”. In my mind it told the most spectacular part of the Christmas story, angels appearing in the middle of the night to Shepherds on a hillside.
I was deathly afraid of the dark so the 2nd verse spoke volumes to me.
“Fear not,” said he; for mighty dread had seized their troubled mind.”
I could well image how terrified they must have been to be out in the dark at night and then to be addressed suddenly by an angel.
But fear made way to…“Glad tidings of great joy I bring to you and all mankind”. The angel spoke of a Savior and of peace between God and men.
It was written by Naham Tate, an Irishman, who moved to London in his twenties. He was Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 1692 until his death in 1715. He wrote these lyrics in 1700 (approximately).
The tune is by George F. Handel. (1685 – 1759) Probably taken from an aria he wrote in 1728.
Here is a recording of the most familiar version.
Here is another version that is probably almost as old. The tune is “Winchester Old”.
Here is a new version from 2013 by Craig Courtney that is also lovely.
I will finish the list out with one more – “The Yorkshire Version”
There are many other versions. Sorry if I didn’t mention your favorite.
What was your favorite Christmas carol as a child? Let me know what it was and why.