The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Shepherds Tell Your Beauteous Story

For Christmas

Words and Music: "Quem pastores laudavere," 14th Century Latin Carol from the Hohenfurt M.S. of the 15th Century, discovered by Rev. Richard R. Terry.

English Translation by Rev. J. O'Connor

Source: Richard R. Terry, Two Hundred Folk Carols
(London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Limited, 1933), #170, pp. 22-23.

Shepherds tell your beauteous story,
How the dazzling angel glory
Sang to Juda's hillsides hoary,
     "Born is your Eternal King."

Bethlehem hath now beholden 
Kings of tribes far-off and olden. 
Incense, myrrh, and treasure golden 
     To her conquering Lion bring. 
So with Mary's gladness blending. 
Let our thankfulness ascending 
Scale high heav'n in sweet contending 
     With the angels' glorious choir. 
God with us, thro' Mary dwelleth ! 
This dear grace all praise excelleth, 
Let the song such bliss that telleth 
     In its own great joy expire. 


The four Latin verses of Quem Pastores laudavere given by Rev. Terry:

Quem pastores laudavere,
Quibus angeli dixere
Absit vobis jam timere,
Natus est Rex gloriae.

Ad quem reges ambulabant, 
Aurem, thus, myrrham portabant 
Haec sincere immolabant 
Leoni victoriŠ. 
Exsultemus cum Maria, 
In coelesti hierarchia, 
Natum promat voce pia, 
Laus honor et gloria. 
Christo Regi, Deo nato, 
Per Mariam nobis dato, 
Vero corde resonato 
Dulci cum melodia. 

Compare Quem pastores laudavere.

Sheet music from Richard R. Terry, Two Hundred Folk Carols (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Limited, 1933), Carol #170, pp. 22-23, from the Hohenfurt MS., fifteenth century, translation by Rev. John O'Connor.

170a-Shepherds_Tell.jpg (136723 bytes) 170b-Shepherds_Tell.jpg (99342 bytes)

Sheet Music from Henry FitzAlan-Howard, 15th Duke of Norfolk, and Charles Tindal Gatty, eds., Arundel Hymns: And Other Spiritual Praises (London: Boosey & Co., 1905), Hymns #28 & 29, pp. 41-43. First and Second Tunes.

First Tune Second Tune
quem_pastores-arundel_hymnal-41.jpg (62859 bytes) quem_pastores-arundel_hymnal-42.jpg (57845 bytes) quem_pastores-arundel_hymnal-43.jpg (73009 bytes)

Sheet Music from Ludwig Bonvin, ed., Hosanna: Catholic Hymn Book, with an Appendix of Prayers and Devotions. Fourth Edition. (B. Herder, 1914), #22, p. 25.

shepherds_tell-hosanna-22_p25-1905.jpg (75678 bytes)

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