Two Shepherds’ Carols

“Two Shepherds’ Carols” pairs the traditional German carol, “Als ich bei meinen Schafen wacht” (“While by my sheep I watched”), with the traditional French noël, “Quittez, pasteurs” (“O leave your sheep”).

“While by my sheep,” published in 1625, is attributed to the Jesuit priest, professor, and poet-hymnwriter Nach Friedrich von Spee (1591-1635) and translated to English by the American music scholar Theodore Baker (1851-1934). Its music is a traditional German melody thought to date to the 16th century, which was adapted and arranged for Baker’s text by Hugo Jüngst (1853-1923). It is widely known, also, as “How Great Our Joy” and the “Echo Carol” from the repeated lines in its refrain.

Verse 1:
While by the sheep we watched at night,
glad tidings brought an angel bright.

How great our joy! (Great our joy!)
Joy, joy, joy! (Joy, joy, joy!)
Praise we the Lord in heaven on high!
(Praise we the Lord in heaven on high!)

“O leave your sheep,” also translated as “O quit your care,” is a text that also rejoices in the Savior’s birth, urging the shepherds to leave their work and worries and to come and adore a newborn Child: the infant King, the Savior, the Light that shines in the darkness, and the loving Shepherd of his flock. Published in Noëls Angevins (1874) and 40 Noëls Anciens (ca. 1886), It is both traditional French in its text and tune, which is a melody from Besançon.

This delightful arrangement of two shepherds’ carols for brass quintet recalls the echoed refrain of “While by my sheep” and features numerous call-and-response figures throughout.

Score, parts (Bb tpt. 1, Bb tpt. 2, F horn, tbn, tuba) — $12.99