The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Leave, Shepherds, Leave Your Peaceful Flocks

For Christmas

Words: “Quittez, Pasteurs,” French Noël

Translation by K. W. Simpson

Music: Bèsançon Melody
Rev. Terry wrote: “In place of that form of the melody now universally current, I have substituted the earlier (and to my thinking, better) Bèsançon version.

Source: Richard Runciman Terry, Two Hundred Folk Carols (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Limited, 1933), Carol #58, pp. 2-3.

1. Leave, shepherds,
leave peaceful flocks a-grazing!
No longer grieve
But come, O come away!
Come and adore;
(Your tears all changed to praising)
Of Him the heav'nly King
        O sing, O sing
O sing Your Savior born today.

2. There, lowly laid.
Within a Manger narrow,
A lovely Maid
And Infant thou shalt see!
His tender love
Hath sought thee in thy sorrow–
Thy darkness to remove!
        He came to prove
A loving Shepherd's care for thee!

3. Kings from the East!
His Star will guide thee truly!
Where He doth rest
In love and faith draw near:
Our Rising Sun
Receives thy homage duly!
O bring to Him – each one–
        (Each one! Each one!)
Your incense and your gold and myrrh!

4. Spirit Divine
(Who canst do all things surely),
Our hearts enshrine
Thine ardours sweet and fair!
For peace is his
That through Thee liveth purely!
And, added unto this
        All joy and bliss–
Since God hath sent His Saviour here!

Sheet Music from Richard Runciman Terry, Two Hundred Folk Carols (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Limited, 1933), Carol #58, pp. 2-3.

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Notes from Rev. Terry:

First appearing in The Oxford Book of Carols (London, 1928), this text was written for use with the French carol tune "QuittezPasteurs" as harmonized by Martin Shaw, Dearmer's organist, and music editor of the Oxford Book of Carols and ...

Editor's Note: This is carol # 144, (1964 edition), “Now Quit Your Care.” The editors state that the tune is printed in L. Roques, 40 Noëls Anciens (nineteenth century, undated), and that there is a slightly different version in L. Eugene Grimault, Noëls Angevins, 1878.

40 Noëls Anciens by Roques is available at the IMSLP / Pete Public Domain Library; “Quittez, pasteurs, vos brebis” is carol #30, pp. 60-61.

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From The Hymnal 1982 Companion, Volume 1, p. 290.

With lyrics created in the seventeenth or early eighteenth century and music from around 1875, “Quittez,pasteursis a fine French folksong perhaps originating in the Anjou region. In one sense the melody is possibly a century or two older, ...

From William Studwell, The Christmas Carol Reader.

In The New Oxford Book of Carols, see Carol #192, “O Leave Your Sheep.” There are three verses in both English and French, the latter from P. Garnier's La Grande Bible renouvelée de noëls (1723). The melody is a Besançon melody also associated with the song 'Nanon dormait.'

Editor's Note: La Grande Bible renouvelée de noëls is text only, no Music.

George Radcliffe Woodward used this tune in his Hail! Holy Child, Lain In An Oxen Manger

Sheet Music to Music: Quittez, pasteurs, vos brebis et houlette, an old Flemish air, harmonized by Charles Wood from  Charles Wood and George Ratcliffe Woodward, The Cambridge Carol-Book, Being Fifty-Two Songs For Christmas, Easter, And Other Seasons (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1924), #12.

The French text, Quittez Pasteurs, from Recueil de noëls angevins (Angers: E. Barassé, 1874), pp. 34-35 (the link is to Google Books).

AUTRE NOËL.
Sur l'air : Nannon dormait.

     Quittez, pasteurs,
Vos brebis, vos houlettes,
Votre hameau,
Et le soin du troupeau.
Changez vos pleurs
En une joie parfaite,
Allez tous adorer
Un Dieu, un Dieu, un Dieu
Qui vient nous-consoler.

     Vous le verrez
Couché dans une étable,
Gomme un enfant
Nu, pauvreetlanguissant:
Reconnaissez
Son amour ineffable,
Pour vous venir chercher,
Il est, il est, il est
Le fidèle berger.

     Rois d'orient,
L'étoile vous éclaire;
A ce grand Roi
Rendez hommage et foi.
L'astre brillant
Vous mène à la lumière
De ce soleil naissant.
Offrez, offrez, offrez
L'or, la myrrhe et l'encens.

     Gardez-vous bien
De passer chez Hérode;
C'est un menteur,
Un cruel, un flatteur.
Changez de train,
Le Sauveur vous exhorte
D'éviter ce malin;
Passez, passez, passez
Par un autre chemin.

     Ce malheureux
Dit finement aux Mages:
Allez trouver
Ce roi qui vient régner,
Et qu'après eux,
Il aura l'avantage
De l'aller adorer;
Il veut, il veut, il veut
Cet enfant massacrer.

     Mères, craignez
Sa fureur et sa rage;
De tous côtés
On voit vos nouveaux nés
De sang baignés.
Quel horrible carnage!
La peur vous fait pâlir,
De voir, de voir, de voir
Ces innocents mourir.

     Esprit divin,
A qui tout est possible,
Perce nos cœurs
De divines ardeurs;
Ce Dieu bénin
Pour nous se rend paisible
En voulant s'incarner,
Le ciel, le ciel, le ciel
Il prétend nous donner.

Lyrics from Recueil de noëls angevins (Angers: E. Barassé, 1874), pp. 34-35.

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