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Shepherds Rejoice

[ Roud 7105 ; words Isaac Watts (1674-1748)]

Maddy Prior and the Carnival Band sang Shepherds Rejoice to a 19th century American tune on their 1991 CD Carols and Capers.

Carollers from Castleton Choir sang Shepherds Rejoice in 1989 on the Village Carols CD The Bells of Paradise: Village Carols from Castleton in the Derbyshire Peak and on the Smithsonian Folkways anthology English Village Carols. Ian Russell commented in the liner notes:

This is one of the best loved carols in the village and has only been found in this location. Versions of the text are widespread on broadsides and in chapbooks, the first verse being the work of Isaac Watts (published 1706-1709).

Lyrics

Maddy Prior sings Shepherds Rejoice

“Shepherds, rejoice, lift up your eyes,
And send your fears away;
News from the regions of the skies—
A Saviour's born today!
Jesus, the God whom angels fear,
Comes down to dwell with you!
Today he makes his entrance here,
But not as monarchs do.”

“No gold or purple swaddling bands,
Nor royal shining things;
A manger for his cradle stands,
And holds the King of Kings.
Go, shepherds, where the infant lies,
And see his humble throne;
With tears of joy in all your eyes,
Go, shepherds, kiss the Son.”

Thus Gabriel sang, and straight around
The heavenly armies throng;
They tune their harps to lofty sound,
And thus conclude the song;
“Glory to God that reigns above,
Let peace surround the earth;
Mortals shall know their maker's love
At their Redeemer's birth.”

Lord! and shall angels have their songs
And men no tunes to raise?
Oh, may we lose our useless tongues,
When they forget to praise.
Glory to God that reigns above,
That pitied us forborn;
We join to sing our maker's love,
For there's a Saviour born.