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Sheet Music: While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks

TitleWhile Shepherds Watched Their Flocks
Alternate titlesThe Vision of the Shepherds
Christmas
Lunenburg
Sandford
Non vi piacque ingiusti dei from Siroe
ComposerGeorge Frideric Handel (1685–1759)
InstrumentationFlute quartet
KeyD major
RangeD4–E6
Time signature4/4
Tempo90 BPM
Performance time0:30
Difficulty leveleasy
Download printable scorePDF Sheet Music (49 kB) (preview)
Download audio tracksMIDI (1 kB) (change tempo) MP3 (338 kB)
Play-along accompanimentMIDI (1 kB) (change tempo) MP3 (395 kB)
Date added2010-12-12
Last updated2010-12-12
CategoriesChristmas carols, Hymn tunes

Performances

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Sunday 12 December 2010

Tune of the Day: While Shepherds Watched (American Version)

A Christmas carol, arranged for flute quartet

“While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks” is a popular Christmas carol describing the annunciation of the birth of Christ to a group of Shepherds.

The hymn, whose words are attributed to Irish lyricist Nahum Tate (1652–1715), has been set to a number of different tunes. The version which is now most commonly used in the USA is based on a portion of the aria “Non vi piacque ingiusti dei” from the Handel opera Siroe, King of Persia, composed in 1728. As a hymn tune, this melody first appeared with a number of other arrangements from works of Handel in The Psalms of David for the use of Parish Churches (1791) by Dr. Samuel Arnold and J.W. Callcott. Arnold at the time was editing the works of Handel, so it is easy to see how he came to find so many melodies of the great Baroque composer that were suitable as hymn tunes.