- (Posted 2016-04-24) CPDL #39399:
- Editor: Barry Johnston (submitted 2016-04-24). Score information: Unknown, 1 page, 89 kB Copyright: Public Domain
- Edition notes: Note shapes added (4-shape). All ten stanzas included. MusicXML source file is in compressed .mxl format.
- CPDL #00041: (Finale 1998)
- Editor: Rafael Ornes (submitted 1999-08-31). Score information: Letter, 2 pages, 51 kB Copyright: CPDL
- Edition notes: In verse 8, “second to” should be “second in”. (Very important distinction!) MusicXML source file is in compressed .mxl format.
First Line: Methinks I see a heavenly host
Composer: William Billings
Lyricist: William Billings
Number of voices: 4vv Voicing: SATB
Genre: Sacred, Carol
Meter: 86. 86 (C.M.)
Instruments: A cappella
First published: 1786 in The Suffolk Harmony
Description: This Old Testament Hebrew word used by Isaiah the prophet means "Messiah" and foretells the birth of Jesus 600 years before the event. As was customary in New England Psalm Singing, songs with similar words were given a variety of musical treatments. This song first appeared in The Suffolk Harmony in 1786.
Original text and translations
1. First Shepherd
Methinks I see an heavenly Host
Of angels on the wing;
Methinks I hear their cheerful notes,
So merrily they sing.
2. First Angel
Let all your fears be banished hence,
Glad tidings I proclaim;
For there is a Savior born today
And Jesus is his name.
Lay down your crooks and quit your flocks,
To Bethlehem repair;
And let your wandering steps be squared
By yonder shining star.
Seek not in courts or palaces;
Nor royal curtains draw;
But search the stable,
See your God extended on the straw.
Then learn from hence, ye rural swains,
The meekness of your God,
Who left the boundless realms of joy,
To ransom you with blood.
The master of the inn refused
A more commodious place;
Ungenerous soul of savage mold
And destitute of grace.
7. First Angel
Exult ye oxen, low for joy,
Ye tenants of the stall;
Pay your obeisance; on your knees
The royal Guest you entertain
is not of common birth,
But second in the great I Am,
The God of heaven and earth.
Then suddenly a heavenly Host
around the shepherds throng,
exulting in the three-fold God,
and thus addressed their song.
10. Grand Chorus
To God the Father, Christ the Son,
And Holy Ghost accord
The first and last, the last and first
Eternal praise afford.
From Suffolk Harmony, 1786, p. ii