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As Shepherds Watched Their Fleecy Care
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As Shepherds Watched Their Fleecy Care is a song written by Joseph Key and first published in 1785 in Five Anthems, Four Collects, Twenty Psalm Tunes. Roy Palmer had a nearly identical version of The Fleecy Care, but without the chorus, in his 1979 Everyman’s Book of English Country Songs.
Andy Turner included a recording of Magpie Lane singing As Shepherds Watched Their Fleecy Care at the Roman Catholic Church of St. Dunstan, Woking, on 7 December 2013 as the 30 November 2014 entry of his project A Folk Song a Week. Magpie Lane recorded it in 2018 for their anniversary album The 25th where they noted:
As Shepherds Watched Their Fleecy Care was composed by Joseph Key, an excise officer from Nuneaton in Warwickshire, and first published in 1785. Over 100 years later, like Newton’s Double, it turned up in the repertoire of William Walton, of Adderbury.
As Shepherds Watched Their Fleecy Care in Five Anthems, Four Collects, Twenty Psalm Tunes
As shepherds watched their fleecy care,
An heav’nly angel did appear:
“Shepherds, attend; to you I bring
Glad tidings of a new-born king.”
Chorus (after each verse):
Loud hosannas send on high,
Raise your voices to the sky:
Hymns of praises ever sing,
To this new-born heav’nly King.
In Bethle’m town this blessed morn,
The Saviour of mankind is born;
Born of a spotless virgin pure,
Free from all sin, from guilt secure.
Arise, your tender care forsake,
With hasty steps your journey take,
To David’s city; there you’ll find
The great redeemer of mankind.
In swaddling clothes the babe behold,
No costly garb his limbs unfold,
Laid in a manger there you’ll see
The pattern of humility.
To save us from eternal death,
The great Messiah came on earth;
Then let us with united voice
In hallelujahs all rejoice.
The original lyrics are from Choral Wiki.