The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Shepherds, What Joyful Tidings

For Christmas

Words: Herders hij is gebooren, Dutch Carol of the 15th Century

Words translated by the Rev. John O'Connor

Music: Traditional Dutch Carol

Source: Richard Runciman Terry, Two Hundred Folk Carols (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Limited, 1933), Carol #121, pp. 20-21.

1. Shepherds, what joyful tidings
    Have made you sing and play?
Long have we been a-waiting
    The Lamb that came today.
Cherubim, seraphim sang to us merrily;
Fear not but hurry ye over to Bethlehem.

2. So without too much manners
    We woke the neighbours all:
Singing away in the moonlight
    We ran to that poor stall,
Blithe was our carol, it tuned with the angels'
So with we went hurrying over to Bethlehem.

3. When we were come to the stable
    We saw the new-born Child
Lying on straw in the manger
    Like lamb on upland wild
Tearful His tiny lids wavered with shuddering,
Cold was the welcome they gave Him in Bethlehem.

4. I took my flute, and my brother
    Began to tune his reed:
Cheerly we played together
    A soothing serenade.
Bye bye my darling and lullaby lullaby,
Weary eyes weep no more, never mind Bethlehem.

5. Look we have brought You a lambkin
    To shield and play with You;
New milk and play with You;
    New milk and butter and junket,
For you are hungry too!
Bye bye my darling and lullaby lullaby
Weary eyes weep no more, never mind Bethlehem.

Sheet Music from Richard Runciman Terry, Two Hundred Folk Carols (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Limited, 1933), Carol #121, pp. 20-21.

121a-Shepherds_What.jpg (166268 bytes) 121b-Shepherds_What.jpg (117960 bytes)

Note from Rev. Terry:

The occasional extra syllables which occur in the English verses (as well as in the original Dutch) readily adapt themselves to the lilt of the tune, which strongly suggests a rustic dance.

Editor's Note:

See the original sheet music (above) for assistance in placing notes to syllables.

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