A great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.@Luke 2:13-14

From Harmonia Sacra, by Joseph Funk (1778-1862).

Christmas George F. Handel, from the opera Ciroë (Cyrus), 1728; arranged in Harmonia Sacra, 1812 (🔊 pdf nwc).

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George F. Handel (1685-1759)

Hark from on high those blissful strains!
Whence can such sweetness be?
Have angels waked their golden harps
With Heav’ns own minstrelsy?
With Heav’ns own minstrelsy?

Or do we hear the cherub voice
Of infant bands who raise,
Soaring from earth celestial notes
In their Creator’s praise?
In their Creator’s praise?

Thus spake the shepherds—yet with dread,
So strange the sounds they heard,
While o’er their slumb’ring flocks they kept
Their wonted nightly guard,
Their wonted nightly guard.

And soon they saw a dazzling light
Beam through the starry way,
And shining seraphs clust’ring where
The infant Jesus lay,
The infant Jesus lay.

They came a Savior’s birth to tell,
And tunes of rapture sing;
Hence the glad notes that filled the air—
Each swept his loudest string,
Each swept his loudest string.

But now in accents soft and kind
The chieftain angel said,
Heav’ns tidings of great joy we bear—
Shepherds, be not afraid,
Shepherds, be not afraid.