While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night: Mastering Christmas Carols on the Piano and Keyboard


Check out our complete series on mastering Christmas Carols on Piano and Keyboard.

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As part of our mastering Christmas carols on piano and keyboard series, here’s our guide to playing While Shepherds Watched.

While Shepherds Watched: Introduction

While Shepherds Watched is written here in E major, which is a comfortable key for most people to sing it in. That’s quite a lot of black notes to contend with, so make sure you’re familiar with the key that includes F sharp, C sharp, G sharp and D sharp.

While Shepherds Watched: Main Melody

Here’s the complete melody written out on the treble clef stave, as you’d play it with the right hand:

While Shepherds Watched melody score

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Listen to the melody (MIDI file, should play directly in your browser. Alternatively, iTunes or Quicktime will play it).

Those notes are:

E | G# G# F# E | A A G# F# | G# B B A# | B G# |
C# B A G# | F# E D# G# | F# E E D# | E

Note the additional A sharp in bar 4.

In bars 6 and 7, the first seven notes form a descending C melodic minor scale, minus the final C: C B A G# F# E D.

While Shepherds Watched: Single Note Bass Line

Here’s how to add single bass notes to add some harmony. Notes are either whole notes (semibreves) or half notes (minims) except the last note which is a dotted half note (dotted minim).

While Shepherds Watched simple bass score

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Listen to the MIDI file

While Shepherds Watched: Melody with Chords and Bass

The final version features the playing of chords in the right hand, with the melody as the highest note.

While Shepherds Watched chords score

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Listen to MIDI file

While Shepherds Watched: Lyrics

While shepherds watched
Their flocks by night
All seated on the ground
The angel of the Lord came down
And glory shone around
And glory shone around

“Fear not,” he said,
For mighty dread
Had seized their troubled minds
“Glad tidings of great joy I bring
To you and all mankind,
To you and all mankind.”

“To you in David’s
Town this day
Is born of David’s line
The Savior who is Christ the Lord
And this shall be the sign
And this shall be the sign.”

“The heavenly Babe
You there shall find
To human view displayed
And meanly wrapped
In swathing bands
And in a manger laid
And in a manger laid.”

Thus spake the seraph,
And forthwith
Appeared a shining throng
Of angels praising God, who thus
Addressed their joyful song
Addressed their joyful song

“All glory be to
God on high
And to the earth be peace;
Goodwill henceforth
From heaven to men
Begin and never cease
Begin and never cease!”

I hope you find this guide useful for helping you to play While Shepherds Watched.

View a range of Christmas Carols Music Books at Amazon.

Series Index: Mastering Christmas Carols on the Piano and Keyboard