The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

In The Field With Their Flocks Abiding

For Christmas

Words: Rev. Frederic William Farrar (1831-1903), 1871, alt.

Music: "Chope," Chope's Carols, 1875, Second Edition 1894
Other tunes by John Farmer (1836-1901) and Arthur Henry Brown (1830-1926)

1. In the field with their flocks abiding,
     They lay on the dewy ground;
And glimmering under the starlight,
     The sheep lay white around;
When the light of the Lord streamed o'er them,
     And lo! from the heaven above,
An angel leaned from the glory,
     And sang his song of love.
          He sang, that first sweet Christmas,
          The song that shall never cease.

"Glory to God in the highest,
On earth good will and peace."

2. "To you in the city of David
     A Savior is born today!"
And sudden a host of the heavenly ones
     Flashed forth to join the lay.
O never hath sweeter message
     Thrilled home to the souls of men
And the heavens themselves had never heard
     A gladder choir till then.
          For they sang that Christmas carol
          That never on earth shall cease. Refrain

3. And the shepherds came to the manger,
     And gazed on the Holy Child;
And calmly o'er that rude cradle
     The virgin mother smiled;
And the sky in the starlit silence,
     Seemed full of the angel lay:
"To you in the City of David
     A Savior is born today!"
          O they sang, and I ween1 that never
          The carol on earth shall cease. Refrain


1. Or: "we pray".  Return

Sheet Music from Rev. Charles Lewis Hutchins, Carols Old and Carols New (Boston: Parish Choir, 1916), Carol #60
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF

In_The_Field_60.gif (280301 bytes)

Sheet Music from Rev. Richard R. Chope, Carols For Use In Church (London: William Clowes & Sons, 1894), Carol #84
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF

Carol-084a.gif (301666 bytes) Carol-084b.gif (338083 bytes)

Chope's music available at the Cyberhymnal, In The Fields

Sheet Music "Evangelium" by John Farmer from Mary Palmer and John Farmer, eds., Church Sunday School Hymn-Book (London: Church of England Sunday-School Institute, 1892), pp. 36-37, #40.
Meter: P.M.

Sheet Music from Edgar Pettman, ed., Modern Christmas Carols (London: Weekes & Co., 1892), #18:

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Note from Pettman: No. XVIII.—This exquisite number, which appears through the kindness of Mr. Farmer, of Balliol College, must be taken in strict time with the metronome mark.

Sheet Music of the setting by John Farmer from Rev. Edgar Pettman, ed., The Westminster Carol Book (London: Houghton & Co., 1899), No. 16, pp. 21-23.

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Sheet Music from Arthur Henry Brown, ed., In Excelsis Gloria-Carols for Christmastide (London: Thomas Bosworth & Co., 1885), Carol #17, pp. 34-36.

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Also found in “Carols for use during Christmas and Epiphany in the church & Sunday school” (Toronto: T. Hill & Son, 1878), pp. 20-22. Text only; no music. Name of editor is not given. A copy is available at the Internet Archive: "Carols For Use During Christmas and Epiphany."

The musical setting by John Farmer  (16 August 1835 – 17 July 1901) was written in 1871 for one of the Harrow Concerts, and subsequently embodied by Mr. Farmer in his Oratorio "Christ and His Soldiers." From the Oratorio it was transferred, together with the original music, to Mrs. Brock's Children's H. Book, 1881. It is also in several other collections. John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology.

This PDF is of an 1889 service that featured Farmer's Oratorio: Christ_And_His_Soldiers.

Farmer also played the organ at Balliol College, Oxford, and founded the Balliol Concerts.

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