Friday, December 18, 2015

Return of the Shepherds

It's a year later and the shepherds are back on the hillside, tending their sheep. Last year I wrote them a nice ten part series having to do with pastorales, musical representations of the bucolic countryside and their own romantic, if smelly and dangerous, occupation. Twelve months later, they are still doing their thing. Same shepherds, same sheep.

Is that the same hill? Man is this a low budget production. I knew I kept seeing the same rocks over and over.

There they stand, subaltern as ever, keeping watch over their flocks by day and night. And we've got another way to let them appear as unpaid extras in our Christmas story. It's a nice, traditional, German carol. The words, translated, go like this:

While by the sheep, we watched at night.
Glad tidings brought and 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!)

In case you were wondering about how that goes in German, it runs thusly:

Als ich bei meinen Schafen wacht
Ein Engel mir die Botschaft bracht.
Des bin ich froh, (bin ich froh)
Froh, froh, froh, (o, o, o)
|: Benedicamus Domino. :|

German and Latin, actually.

Since the acoustics of the hills are quite reverberent, this carol has become known alternately as "the echo carol" (besides being called "While By the Sheep" and "How Great our Joy")--I was stupid enough to type it first as "While By our sheep" but of course the shepherds don't own the sheep; they are there to look after somebody else's. Probably a big sheep conglamerate.

Anyhow, we can leave them alone now that we've had our look, and listen to this nice carol, which I've set for organ. If anybody wants the score I can send it to you--it's a bit more challenging than last Friday's selection, though there is no improvisation required.


While By the Sheep

Last year's shepherd series can be found nicely indexed on the blog--just scroll down until you find it in the right hand column.

Don't forget, the homepage now has two-and-a-half hours of Christmas music for piano and organ for your listening pleasure. It will be up through Epiphany.

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