The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Shepherds In Judea

Words and Music: William Billings (1746-1800)
The Psalm-Singer's Amusement, 1781

1. As shepherds in Jewry were guarding their sheep,
Promisc'ously seated, estranged from sleep,
An angel from heaven presented to view,
And thus he accosted the trembling few;
    Dispel all your sorrows and banish your fears,
    For Jesus your Savior in Jewry appears,
    Dispel all your sorrows and banish your fears,
    For Jesus your Savior in Jewry appears.

2. Though Adam the first in rebellion was found,
Forbidden to tarry in hallowed ground;
Yet Adam the second appears to retrieve
The loss you sustain'd by the devil and Eve.
    Then shepherds, be tranquil, this instant arise,
    Go visit your Savior and see where He lies.
    Then shepherds, be tranquil, this instant arise,
    Go visit your Savior and see where He lies.

3. A token I leave you, whereby you may find
This heavenly stranger, this friend to mankind:
A manger His cradle, a stall His above,
The oxen are near him and blow on your God.
    Then shepherds, be humble, be meek and be low,
    For Jesus your Savior's abundantly so.
    Then shepherds, be humble, be meek and be low,
    For Jesus your Savior's abundantly so.

4. This wonderful story scarce reached the ear,
When thousands of angels in glory appear,
They join in the concert, and this was the theme:
All glory to God, and good will towards men.
Then shepherds, go join you glad voice to the choir,
And catch a few sparks of celestial fire.
Then shepherds, go join you glad voice to the choir,
And catch a few sparks of celestial fire.

5. Hosanna! the angels in ecstasy cry,
Hosanna! the wandering shepherds reply;
Salvation, redemption are center'd in One,
All glory to God for the birth of His Son.
Then shepherds, adore, we commend you to God,
Go visit the Son in His humble abode.
Then shepherds, adore, we commend you to God,
Go visit the Son in His humble abode.

6. To Bethlehem city the shepherds repair'd,
For full confirmation of what they had heard;
They enter'd the stable, with aspect so mild,
And there they beheld the Mother and Child.
Then make proclamation, divulge it abroad,
That both Jews and Gentiles may hear of the Lord.

Note: See the arrangement by Roy Ringwald in Book Of American Carols (2004) and Keyte and Parrott, The New Oxford Book of Carols (1992). Both sources contain notes.

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