Bethlehem (William Billings)

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  • (Posted 2017-08-20)   CPDL #45993:       
Editor: Barry Johnston (submitted 2017-08-20).   Score information: 7 x 10 inches (landscape), 2 pages, 48 kB   Copyright: Public Domain
Edition notes: Note shapes added (4-shape). MusicXML source file is in compressed .mxl format.
  • CPDL #25269:         
Editor: Gerd Eichler (submitted 2012-01-03).   Score information: A4, 2 pages, 69 kB   Copyright: CPDL
Edition notes: Only 1st verse in original print and in this edition. MusicXML source file is in compressed .mxl format.
  • CPDL #01786:  Network.png
Editor: Christopher R. Baker (submitted 2000-11-27).   Copyright: Personal
Edition notes:

General Information

Title: Bethlehem
First Line: While shepherds watched their flocks by night
Composer: William Billings
Lyricist: Nahum Tate

Number of voices: 4vv   Voicing: SATB
Genre: SacredCarol

Language: English
Instruments: A cappella

First published: 1778 in The Singing Master's Assistant

Description: This setting was first published on pp69-70 of William Billings' The Singing Master's Assistant, Boston: 1778. Hymn Tune Index tune number 4002a.

The same text was previously set to a different tune by Billings, 'An Hymn for Christmas or Charlston', on p15 of his collection The New-England Psalm-Singer, Boston: (1770).

External websites:

Original text and translations

Original text and translations may be found at While shepherds watched their flocks by night.