~* WHILE SHEPHERDS WATCHED THEIR FLOCKS *~
Nahum Tate, 1652-1715

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
Luke 2:11

Shepherds in ancient times would sit all night beside their flocks, protecting them from wild beasts. No doubt this is why these shepherds were seated on the ground the night Jesus was born: they had a special job to do in watching over the flock. It would be natural for these humble men to be fearful, not only for themselves but also for their flock, when the brilliant light and the voices of angels pierced the silent night. But with what wonder and exultation they must have heard the astounding news! Are we surprised that they left their flocks and hastened joyfully to see the Holy Babe in the manger with their own eyes?

This clearly written, colorful narrative of the angels' announcement to the shepherds was penned by Nahum Tate, the son of an Irish clergyman. After education at Trinity College, Dublin, Tate was appointed Poet Laureate of England during the reign of William and Mary. His life as a drunkard and a spendthrift resulted in degradation, however; and he died at the age of 63 in a debtors' refuge in London, England. Would to God he had learned in his heart the truths he could write of so beautifully with his hand....

No doubt the popularity of this carol has been enhanced by the tuneful melody, which has been adapted from a work by master composer George Frederick Handel.



While shepherds watched their flocks by night,
All seated on the ground,
The angel of the Lord came down,
And glory shone around,
And glory shone around.

“Fear not!” said he, for mighty dread
Had seized their troubled mind.
“Glad tidings of great joy I bring
To you and all mankind
To you and all mankind.

“To you, in David’s town, this day
Is born of David’s line
A Savior, who is Christ the Lord,
And this shall be the sign,
And this shall be the sign.

“The heavenly Babe you there shall find
To human view displayed,
All meanly wrapped in swathing bands,
And in a manger laid,
And in a manger laid.”

Thus spake the seraph and forthwith
Appeared a shining throng
Of angels praising God on high,
Who thus addressed their song,
Who thus addressed their 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,
Begin and never cease!”



*For Today*: Luke 2:8-14; Romans 1:1-5

Out of gratefulness to God for the precious gift of His Son, we should be anxious to spread His peace and good will to others whenever we can!

Music url: The Cyber Hymnal

Taken from Amazing Grace -- 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions © Copyright 1990 by Kenneth W. Osbeck. Published by Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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