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: and they were sore afraid.@Luke 2:9-10
portrait
Michael Praetorius (1571-1621)

Unknown author, in Carols Old and Carols New, by Charles L. Hutchins (Boston, Massachusetts: Parish Choir, 1916), numbers 4 & 413.

Michael Praetorius, 1609 (🔊 pdf nwc).

illustration
The Angel Appearing to the Shepherds
Thomas Cole (1801-1848)

A shepherd band their flocks are keeping,
And gentle lambs are sweetly sleeping;
When suddenly they all behold
An angel in bright robes, with harp of gold.

Glad tidings of great joy he bringeth,
The azure vault with anthems ringeth;
Immanuel awakes the song,
And countless hosts the glorious theme prolong.

To you, this day, is born a Savior,
Your prophet, priest and king forever;
All glory be to God,
they cry;
All glory be to God, let earth reply.

On earth be peace with mercy blending,
Goodwill to men, and love unending
;
Thus sweetly sing the angel throng,
And all the heav’nly host rehearse the song.

Through field and wood the song resoundeth,
O’er hill and vale the chorus boundeth;
Exultingly the echoes roll,
And hymns of triumph spread from pole to pole.

The shepherds view the host returning,
Their hearts with holy ardor burning;
To Bethlehem they wend their way,
Repeating with glad tongues th’angelic lay.

In haste they seek the heav’nly stranger;
They find the babe laid in a manger;
With wonder and with awe they fall,
And joyfully adore Him, Lord of all.

Now every voice with rapture swelleth,
For Christ the Lord with mortals dwelleth;
Let men and angels Him adore,
And shout their loud hosannas evermore.