While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks…

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.

While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks (Hymn Charts with Lyrics, Contemporary) – YouTube

Here is another version that is probably almost as old. The tune is “Winchester Old”.

WINCHESTER OLD WHILE SHEPHERD WATCHED THEIR FLOCKS – YouTube

Here is a new version from 2013 by Craig Courtney that is also lovely.

Atlanta Master Chorale | While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks (Courtney) – YouTube

I will finish the list out with one more – “The Yorkshire Version”

While Shepherds Watched – The Yorkshire Version by Stamford Bridge Singers – YouTube

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.

3 thoughts on “While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks…

  1. I love them all, Karen, and this Christmas, not being able to attend church, I will need to hear them a lot. Their sacred messages of hope and reassurance are much needed in these times. And the memories they bring of family and church, home, and childhood. “While shepherds..” always bring to mind our mischievous replacement of certain words: “While shepherds washed their socks by night…”

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s