While Shepherds Watched


Our third and final While Shepherd’s Watched… is the Lyngham variant and it’s nice to hear Jon tackle this differently, solo with concertina. According to Wiki this is the popular tune in Cornwall (although I’d welcome comment on that) and is more commonly associated with the hymn Oh For A Thousand Tongues To Sing.  That tune was apparently written by Thomas Jarman circa 1803.

You can buy the December digital album now from all good download stores.


33 Responses to “While Shepherds Watched”

  1. Niki says:

    Well, I grew up in one of the remoter bits of Cornwall and remember hearing this version (plus the Sans Day Carol).

    Lovely one – Thanks Jon!

  2. Sarah says:

    yes this is my favorite and the version we sang round the village Christmas tree in Mullion on the Lizard in Cornwall on Christmas eve. thanks for that!

  3. David says:

    This is the version we have been singing every Christmas since Geoff Bibby started the Singers’ Club at the Ring O’ Bells in Warrington. It is superb for community singing, as it naturally forms rounds. Love this solo version, Jon.

  4. John says:

    This version is also sung in North Devon.

  5. Sylv says:

    We always sing this version in our local church in Nottinghamshire

  6. Shelley says:

    Maddy Prior and the Carnival Band sang this version this evening at Buxton Opera House. One of my favourite hymn tunes. Jon’s solo/concertina version works really well too.

  7. Jenny says:

    This is very well-known throughout Cornwall, and Devon too – I have even heard it sung at the midnight service on Christmas Eve in Liskeard.
    It is always sung in glorious harmony and in parts. An indispensable favourite at christmas singarounds.

  8. Jane Ramsden says:

    Very rock and roll – or should that be flock and roll? – version compared with the ordinary boring one I know! I like the more straightforward tune though, as it stems from childhood.

  9. Tor says:

    ‘Happy’ memories of playing this with our school band outside during late night winter shopping. We always thought of it as a Cornish version as thence ‘ours’ and played with a great more gusto than the other versions!

  10. Lyngham is the standard Cornish version … but like South Yorkshire, there is a flourishing pub carol singing tradition ( someone tell Kate ! ) .. with 20 + versions of WSW and a host of Cornish composers … ever heard of the Thomas Merritt concerts at Christmas ?
    There was one in Perranporth last wednesday . … the same evening I was hearing Kate Rusby saying the South Yorkshire tradition was unique !
    We ought to have a few exchange visits …

    My favourite WSW is the Bolingey version … especially sung in the Bolingey Inn on Xmas Eve.

  11. viv says:

    Love it, so much ‘happier’ than the traditional version learnt in church and school.

  12. Simon says:

    Just spent a few minutes catching up with all of the garment tomfoolery, which has put a smile on my face. I could add “Shirts, where it is?” Or even, “I see you have the same trouble with your trousers as I do.” But that will probably confuse the hell out of most if not all of you. I also note my triping has been marked down, all I can say in my defence Diana is I probably have more than 100,000 words invested in this project, so there’s bound to be a few wrong uns!! I have just been and ordered my first proper pair of glasses, so who knows, there may be an improvement. I suspect, however, it’s the clumsy fingers that need attention… Or perhaps the befuddled brain!!

  13. John Biggs (Welsh Marches) says:

    I agree with most above, that this is the best tune of all the variations we have heard so far, and Jon sings it very well. “A Proper Job, My Handsome”.
    How can one simple carol generate so many different variants ? The old Folk Process working overtime indeed.

  14. Peter Walsh says:

    I detect a ‘Doo-Dah’ reference there, Simon, with your ‘Shirt Event’. That’s as far as I go with garments from now on!
    I’d never heard WSW to this tune before and I like Jon’s performance of it.
    Phew! I think I’ve got through this posting without any spelling ererrs… doh!

  15. Diana says:

    Liked this one very much. Not an easy one to sing though I reckon.

    Simon I think your triping is excellent usually. Any mistake is a case of the brain moving faster than the fingers or vice versa. It has to be one of them. But PLEASE PLEASE do not send anyone down a different path with shirts and trousers as you know what we are all like now (some more than others). You may regret it! I hope you have gone to Spec Savers.

    Peter glad you are dropping the garment theme, just want Muzza to co-operate and we will be ok. No spelling ererrs be blowed.

  16. Simon says:

    Yes sorry for adding fuel to the garment fire, but well spotted Peter as both are Sir Vivian (the Ginger Geezer extraordinaire). And yes Diana, despite my loathing of that ******* ad, Spec Savers proved to have the best deal if not the best choice of frames. The two for one and £35 saving on the lenses compared with Vision Excess, where I actually had the bins tested (a revalation!!) was too good to pass over. It’s even £50 vs £75 for ‘reactions’, so one pair with and one without – £335 – and off to the poor house with the family. Curses!

  17. A nonny mouse says:

    Cor Blimey Admin Simon……….£335……….
    I’m surprised they didn’t take the shirt off your back

  18. Linda says:

    Daina firstly a confession Colin has a fractured thumb not finger, I had pressed submit before I realised my mistake. Been to hospital today ,has now got a splint and six weeks on sick till he has to go back for a progress report. AFSAD is helping to keep the boredom at bay. Many thanks for asking. Jon when you started this project did you realise that apart from providing us with some brilliant songs you were also starting a social network?

  19. Linda says:

    Diana sorry must a caught the bug

  20. muzza (N.W Surrey+fringe) says:

    Cor Blimey Guvnor…that “A nonny mouse” above is playing with fire..
    wait till the gals see that comment….
    I wouldn’t have dared say that after what “Daina” said…and, anyway, I am now reformed!
    and that Colin with a fractured thumb…..did he not know that Linda had booby-trapped the plum pie!

  21. Daina says:

    Muzza you are back and on form. ” A nonny mouse” chooses to be anonymous – do you think it might be someone we already know?

  22. Jane Ramsden says:

    @ Skyman: I paid about £350 for one pair of glasses last time without photochromic lenses, so think yersen lucky! Of course, I am blind as the proverbial bat, and now have to have varifocals to boot. The world is never the same after varifocals… What with the specially-thinned lenses for less weight and better cosmetic effect, & the light-reflecting coating, I need a mortgage – plus I always purchase 2 pairs as I’m paranoid I’ll break the one when so dependent on them! The cost is all in the lenses, not the frames, as there are usually only 2/3 fit my prescription in the shoppe. So no, I don’t go to Specsavers. They don’t want to do 2 for 1 for the likes of me!

    @ Muzza: I see you are back from Bethlehem… and sporting a new hair-cut? I am rather missing your sock though… but then so are you… this is where we came in!

  23. Simon says:

    Jane, I’m on the three way varifocals, as I’m short sighted in one eye and long sighted in the other!!! Spec Savers are doing the job for me so I’d give them another go if I were you… Mind you, I’ll report back once I’ve got the b*****s and let you know if they work.

  24. Rob says:

    The tune’s composer Thomas Jarman (1776-1861) was a Baptist tailor from Clipstone, Northants, who called it ‘Nativity’ when he wrote it in c.1803 for ‘While Shepherds’. Because there were so many tunes called ‘Nativity’ it was later renamed ‘Lyngham’ and became almost inseparable from the Methodists’ ‘O for a thousand tongues to sing’.

    It’s still the normal tune for ‘While Shepherds’ in many parts of the country which have a strong nonconformist tradition.

  25. Muzza+412days (NW Surrey-UK) says:

    My granny died aged 113 yrs and never needed glasses……………..
    drank it straight from the bottle..ta dah!

  26. Diana says:

    Nice one Muzza. You are on form.

    Still think this is a hard carol to sing for Jon.

  27. Muzza+413days (NW Surrey-UK) says:

    ‘Watched their flocks’…….’watched their flocks’….
    not a mention of the laundering of foot-related garments (bang goes tradition!

  28. Diana says:

    Put a sock in it Muzza. You know how we all get wound up about the dreaded words which I dare not repeat. It is a travesty of justice.

  29. Old Muzza(NW Surrey.UK says:

    Do you suffer with specs before the eyes?………….wear them round the back of your head Do you suffer from acne?……………move to Chelsea!…….
    Socks , vests, shirts………..what is it they say….if you scream in space…nobody hears!

  30. Alf Gliddon says:

    I was brought up on my parent’s farm at Crackington Haven, 1944-61. This Lyngham version was the one we always sang, at Brockhill Methodist Chapel or at home. And always with great joy!

  31. Old Muzza (N W Surrey) says:

    Alf………there you are….a farmers boy from the forties and yet you manage to pull off a high tech stunt by dating your comment February 2016……..how you do dat!!!

  32. Old Muzza (N W Surrey) says:

    I note that my comment posted with todays date…..vest vest vest sock sock

  33. This is very well-known throughout Cornwall, and Devon too – I have even heard it sung at the midnight service on Christmas Eve in Liskeard.
    It is always sung in glorious harmony and in parts. An indispensable favourite at christmas singarounds.

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