Every year I resurrect one of the great shape note tunes to use as part of our music for the season. Last year we sang “Milford” with a small ensemble and “Star in the East” congregationally. This year we are going to attempt an arrangement of Sherburne. Now singing shape note as special music is totally antithetical to the spirit of shape note singing but it’s a great way to introduce this rich heritage of congregational song to our church.
Sherburne – While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night
While shepherds watched their flocks by night,
All seated on the ground,
The angel of the Lord came down,
And glory shone around.
All glory be to God on high
And to the earth be peace,
Goodwill henceforth from heaven to men
Begin and never cease.
words: Nahum Tate, 1700
music: Daniel Read, 1783