While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks

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page one of While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks

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Full details

Written for The Singers, Newcastle Upon Tyne, a choir of approx. 25 beautiful clear voices! There is a live recording of the first performance of this piece by the Singers here.

I thought "While Shepherd’s watched" presented some good opportunities for word painting, so I’ve made a very different modernised version using word painting throughout.

When angels appear there are high ethereal sounds; "glory" sounds mysterious, "round" goes around (up and down); "mighty dread" and "troubled minds" are very troubled; "great joy" breaks that mood and is of course very joyful and positive; "to you in David’s town" etc. is a narrative section as it is telling a story; "in a manger laid" sounds like someone gently laying a baby in a crib (to me, anyway!); more high ethereal and "glory" type shining music as seraphs and angels appear; then this resolves to a peaceful ending on the "peace on Earth" passage. The end is meant to sound like something going on for ever and ever as the sopranos and basses hold the chord on "peace" and "good will" while inner parts move up and down through each other with "begin and never cease" and "good will hence forth" intertwining.

Score ID
Year of composition
Nahum Tate (1652-1715)
Moderate (Grades 4-6)
4 minutes
Modern classical music and Classical music
Instrumental parts
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