Scripture Verse

There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. Luke 2:8–9

Introduction

Words & Mu­sic: Tra­di­tion­al Eng­lish ca­rol, pos­si­bly as ear­ly as the 13th Cen­tu­ry (🔊 pdf nwc). This com­bi­na­tion of tune and ly­rics first ap­peared in Christ­mas Ca­rols, An­cient and Mo­dern, by Will­iam San­dys (Lon­don: Ri­chard Beck­ley, 1833).

Lyrics

The first Noel the an­gel did say
Was to cer­tain poor shep­herds
In fields as they lay;
In fields where they lay tend­ing their sheep,
On a cold win­ter’s night that was so deep.

Refrain

Noel, No­el, No­el, No­el,
Born is the King of Is­ra­el.

They look­èd up and saw a star
Shining in the east, be­yond them far;
And to the earth it gave great light,
And so it con­tin­ued both day and night.

Refrain

And by the light of that same star
Three wise men came from coun­try far;
To seek for a king was their in­tent,
And to fol­low the star wher­ev­er it went.

Refrain

This star drew nigh to the north­west,
Over Beth­le­hem it took its rest;
And there it did both stop and stay,
Right ov­er the place where Je­sus lay.

Refrain

Then did they know as­sur­ed­ly
Within that house the King did lie;
One en­tered it them for to see,
And found the Babe in po­ver­ty.

Refrain

Then en­tered in those wise men three,
Full rev­er­ent­ly up­on the knee,
And of­fered there, in His pre­sence,
Their gold and myrrh and frank­in­cense.

Refrain

Between an ox stall and an ass,
This Child tru­ly there He was;
For want of cloth­ing they did Him lay
All in a man­ger, among the hay.

Refrain

Then let us all with one ac­cord
Sing prais­es to our heav’n­ly Lord;
That hath made Heav’n and earth of naught,
And with His blood man­kind hath bought.

Refrain

If we in our time shall do well,
We shall be free from death and hell;
For God hath pre­pared for us all
A rest­ing place in ge­ne­ral.

Refrain

illustration
Christmas Carols New and Old, 1871