There were…shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them.@Luke 2:8–9
illustration
Christmas Carols New and Old, 1871

Tho­mas B. Mur­ray, Lays of Christ­mas (Lon­don: Fran­cis & John Ri­vin­gton, 1847), num­ber 1.

Lax­ey T. Ack­royd, in Christ­mas Min­strel­sy, by Jo­seph Will­iams (Lon­don & Man­ches­ter, Eng­land: No­vel­lo & Brem­ner, 1864), num­ber 9 (🔊 pdf nwc).

On Judah’s hills a lowly band
Their flocks in safety kept:
Their folds they penned with careful hand,
And watched while others slept.

No helpless sheep was seen to stray,
No ravening wolf was nigh;
Their fleecy charge securely lay
Beneath the spangled sky.

And were not these a faithful few
Of Abraham’s stock indeed,
Who longed, with faithful hearts and true,
For David’s promised seed?

Their thoughts, perchance, were fixed on One
Whom prophets had foretold;
Him, who should bring each wandering son
Within the Shepherd’s fold;

The Lord, who loves His flock to feed,
To guard from strange alarms,
In tender grass His lambs to lead,
Or bear them in His arms:

Who calls His sheep, that know His voice,
To seek with one accord
The living waters that rejoice
The city of the Lord.

O happy shepherds! blest were they,
When from the Father’s throne
Angelic hosts in bright array
Brought news of mercy down.

Thus first to men of humble birth
Were told the wondrous things,
Which bowed the idols of the earth,
And checked the pride of kings.

In daily duty’s constant round,
And works of trust and care,
Thus, like the shepherds, faithful found,
May we their blessing share.