The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Angels From The Realms of Glory

For Christmas

Words: James Montgomery (1771-1854), 1816

Music: "Regent Square," Henry Thomas Smart (1813-1879), 1867
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In Great Britain, often set to the tune of the French noŽl
Les Anges dans nos Campanges
Music: "Gloria" (or "Iris"), arr. Edward Shippen Barnes
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(About which the editors of the The New Oxford Book of Carols have considerable comment)

Source: James Montgomery, Sacred Poems and Hymns (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1854), No. CCXXXIX, pp. 239-240, in five verses.

Good Tidings of Great Joy to all People

1. Angels from the realms of glory,
    Wing your flight o'er all the earth,
Ye who sang creation's story,
    Now proclaim the Messiah's birth;

Come and worship,
Worship Christ, the new-born King.

2. Shepherds, in the field abiding,
    Watching o'er your flocks by night,
God with man is now residing,1
    Yonder shines the infant-light:2 Chorus

3. Sages, leave your contemplations,
    Brighter visions beam afar,
Seek the great Desire of Nations;
    Ye have seen his natal star; Chorus

4. Saints, before the altar bending,
    Watching long in hope and fear,3
Suddenly the Lord descending,
    In His temple shall appear; Chorus

5. Sinners, wrung with true repentance,
    Doom'd for guilt to endless pains,
Justice now revokes the sentence,
    Mercy calls you -- break your chains.4 Chorus

The following verses do not occur in the above source:

6.5 Though an infant now we view Him,
    He shall fill His Father's throne,
Gather all nations to Him;
    Every knee shall then bow down: Chorus

7.6 Lord of Heaven, we adore Thee,
    God the Father, God the Son,
God the Spirit, One in glory,
    On the same eternal throne. Chorus

8.7 All creation, join in praising
    God, the Father, Spirit, Son,
Evermore your voices raising
    To the eternal Three in One. Chorus


1. Or: God with 'us' is now residing. Return

2. A Good Christmas Box has "the glorious light." Return

3. A Good Christmas Box has "Waiting long, with hope and fear," Return

4. A Good Christmas Box has

Sinners, bow'd with true repentance,
Doom'd by guilt to endless pain,
Justice now repeals your sentence,
Mercy calls you, ó break your chains: Return

5. This verse came from another Montgomery carol, "The Babe of Bethlehem," one of the other two Christmas carols published in The Christmas Box, 1825. Return

6. In place of the fifth verse "Sinners, wrung with true repentance...", some hymnals use this verse written in 1855 by Isaac Gregory Smith. Return

7. From the Salisbury Hymn Book, 1857, alt. Return


Also found in G. Walters, A Good Christmas Box (Dudley: G. Walters, 1847, Reprinted by Michael Raven, 2007), p. 56, with the title "The New-born King."

Also found in the Book of Christmas Hymns (London: T. Nelson and Sons, 1868), pp. 21-22, excluding verses 6-8.

Also found in A Selection of Carols, Pieces, and Anthems, Suitable for Christmas. (London: W. Kent and Co.; Penzance: F. Rodda, ca. 1872), with verses 1, 2, and 3.

The same five verses, with slight variations in punctuation only, occur in Montgomery's The Christian Psalmist. Third Edition. (Glasgow: William Collins, et al., 1826), #487, pp. 401-402.

Commonly, the chorus is sung as:

Come and worship, come and worship
Worship Christ, the newborn King.

An alternate chorus in one version is

Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Lord of Heaven, Three in One

This carol may also be sung to "Gloria" (Barnes), the common tune for Angels We Have Heard On High. In this case, the following is used as the chorus:

Gloria in excelsis Deo.
Gloria in excelsis Deo.

This is the version commonly sung in Great Britain.

In another version, the chorus is the single:

Gloria in excelsis Deo.

Sheet Music "St. Osmund" by Mr. Herbert Stephen Irons from Rev. Richard R. Chope, Carols For Use In Church (London: William Clowes & Sons, 1894), Carol #3
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Carol-003.gif (262227 bytes)

Chope adds this verse:

Saints and Angels join in praising
Thee, the Father, Spirit, Son,
Evermore their voices raising
To the Eternal Three In One;
    Come and Worship!
    Worship Christ, the New-born King!

Sheet Music "Regent Square" by Henry Smart, 1866, from Henry Sloane Coffin and Ambrose White Vernon, eds., Hymns of the Kingdom of God. New York: The A. S. Barnes Company, 1910, #47, p. 83.

Sheet Music from Ralph Dunstan, The Cornish Song Book (London: Reid Bros., Ltd., 1929), p. 102.
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This is an interesting arrangement, and worth a listen.

Sheet Music from Ralph Dunstan, The Cornish Song Book (London: Reid Bros., Ltd., 1929), pp. 104-105, under the title "New Park."
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Sequenced by Tim Henderson, a member of the London Gallery Quire

Sheet Music By Pemberton Pierce, No. 6 from Christmas Carols, 1884 by Adam Geibel and Pemberton Pierce. Published by Pemberton Pierce, Pennsgrove, N.J.
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Source: Library of Congress, Rare Book and Special Collections Division, America Singing: Nineteenth-Century Song Sheets.
(American Memory, Performing Arts-Music)

Sheet Music By Adam Geibel, Recitative And Air For Soprano, 1883

Source: Library of Congress, Rare Book and Special Collections Division, America Singing: Nineteenth-Century Song Sheets.
(American Memory, Performing Arts-Music)

Sheet Music from Edgar Pettman, ed., Modern Christmas Carols (London: Weekes & Co., 1892), #22:

22-Angels_From_The_Realms_Of_Glory.jpg (90487 bytes)

Pettman adds this note: No. XXII.óCare must be taken not to hurry the quavers in this composition. An alternative tune will be found in the Ancient and Modern Hymn-book. [below]

Sheet Music from Rev. Edgar Pettman, ed., The Westminster Carol Book (London: Houghton & Co., 1899), No. 19, p. 25.

Pettman_19-Angels_From_The_Realms_Of_Glory.jpg (494865 bytes)

Sheet Music "Lewes" by J. Randall (1715-1799), from Hymns Ancient & Modern (London: William Clowes And Sons, Ltd., 1922) , p. 567
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Meter: 87 87 47

Sheet music from A. B. Goodrich, ed., A New Service And Tune Book For Sunday Schools (New York: Gen. Prot. Episc. S. S. Union and Church Book Society, 1863, New Edition, Enlarged, 1866), #3, p. 25.

Text states to the tune given for "Lo! He Comes, With Clouds Descending:"

Editor's Note

There is considerable disagreement among experts concerning this carol.  Several give it as a loose translation or paraphrase of an 18th century French noel, Les Anges dans nos Campanges (including both Elizabeth Poston and William Studwell). The editors of The Oxford Book of Carols merely note the similarity between the first lines of the two texts, but don't actually claim a connection. The editors of The New Oxford Book of Carols seem to give credit entirely to Montgomery, as does Ian Bradley in The Penguin Book of Carols and Erik Routley in The English Carol.

My mastery of the French language is too poor for me to make a judgment in this matter. I would note, however, that according to the best information, the first printed appearance of Les Anges in French (either in France or French-speaking Canada) was in the 1840s.  It's first appearance in English did not occur until the 1860s.

However, Montgomery's poem first appeared on December 24, 1816 as a five-stanza poem under the title of "Nativity" in his newspaper, The Sheffield Iris. It's first appearance in a hymnal was in Thomas Cotterill's Selection of Psalms and Hymns, 1819.

In 1825 it was printed in the Religious Tract Society's book The Christmas Box, as one of "Three New Carols."

Montgomery revised it several times for publication in his Christian Psalmist, 1825, (under the new title of "Good tidings of great joy to all people") and Original Hymns, 1853.

The poem was joined in 1867 to the tune "Regent Square" by Henry Thomas Smart (1813-1879) who was blinded in 1865. The tune got its name from London's Regent Square Presbyterian Church. It was later published in the English Presbyterian hymnal Psalms and Hymns for Divine Worship, 1867.

In England, it is most frequently paired with the tune to the 18th century French noŽl Les Anges dans nos Campanges (which, in the United States, is the tune most frequently paired to Angels We Have Heard On High). Both Routley and the editors of The New Oxford Book of Carols are critical of the joining of this carol with this tune.

It is considered both a Christmas and Epiphany carol.

James Montgomery, hymn writer and originally a member of the Moravian Brethren (the Protestant Church which stems from Bohemia, closely linked with the Lutheran Church), was born in Ayshire in 1771. He was the son of Moravian missionaries, and was educated at the Brethren at Fulneck, Yorkshire, seminary.

Unsuccessful at school, he was apprenticed as a baker, but ran away and was taken in by a Mr. Gales, a publisher. Gales, however, fled to France in 1794, fearful of his published eulogies of the French Revolution. Montgomery took over the paper, changed its name, and assumed it publication. He was twice jailed jailed for libel (the first because of his predecessor's actions). He took advantage of his jail time by writing a little book, Prison Amusements, which he published on his release. The popularity of the book lead him on the road to such popularity that he soon became a leading citizen of Sheffield. A rival took over the paper in 1825, and thereafter, Montgomery devoted his time to religious verse. He produced over 400 hymns, and skillfully adapted many more. He died in Sheffield in 1854.


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