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                      Nahum Tate (1652-1715)

Song of the Angels at the Nativity of our Blessed Saviour.
                        Luke II. from v. 8. to v. 15.

    WHile Shepherds watch'd their Flocks by Night
        all seated on the Ground,
    The angel of the Lord came down,
        and Glory shone around.
    " Fear not, said he. (for mighty dread
        " had seiz'd their troubled mind)
    " Glad Tidings of great Joy I bring
        " to you and all Mankind ;
    " To you in David's Town this day
        " is born of David's Line
    " The Saviour who is Christ the Ld ;
        " and this shall be the sign :
    " The heav'nly Babe you there shall find
        " to humane view display'd
    " All meanly wrapt in swathing Bands,
        " and in a Manger laid.
    " Thus spake the Seraph, & forthwith
        " appear'd a shining Throng
    " Of Angels praising God, and thus
        " addrest their joyful Song ;
    " All Glory be to God on high,
        " and to the Earth be Peace;
    " Good-will, henceforth, from heav'n to men,
        " begin and never cease.


Popularly attributed to the English poet laureate Tate, the above hymn first appeared in:
  • Tate, Nahum, and Nicholas Brady. A Supplement to the New Version of Psalms. London: J. Heptinstall, 1700.

    At the time it was published it was the only Chrismas hymn legally authorized by the Church of England. Seven of the many tunes it has been sung to, and an overview of its history, can be found in:

  • Keyte, Hugh and Andrew Parrott eds. The New Oxford Book of Carols. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.