While Shepherds WHAT?

Annually, we have been going into pubs and singing carols. Between 2012 and 2022 there was a whole separate project and we printed up special carol sheets once we realised that everybody could then join in!

With a regular (annual) event comes the traditions. Singing the wrong words (washing socks, Frank was incensed, Let us all in a Honda Accord, etc) is a good one, but lately we have found it most amusing to work out alternative tunes for that most innocent of carols, While Shepherds Watched their Flocks.

So here for your delight and delectation we list every tune the collective can think of in the style of I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue. With due apologies to Colin Sell.

  • The correct tune. Winchester Old. The tune was first published in 1592, I think. So it’s been around longer than most of the contenders.
  • Other hymn tunes
    • O little town of Bethlehem (tune: Forest Green)
    • Joy to the World (tune: Antioch)
    • There is a Green Hill far away (tune: Horsley)
    • Amazing Grace (tune: New Britain)
    • O for a thousand tongues to sing (tune: Lingham)
    • I heard the voice of Jesus say (tune: Kingsfold)
    • Men of Harlech (tune: Christian, Rouse thee! War is raging)
    • The Lord’s my Shepherd (tune: Crimmond)
    • Praise to the holiest in the height (tune: Gerontius)
    • How deep the Father’s love for us (Townend)
  • Other tunes
    • The British Grenadiers March
    • Can you feel the love tonight? from Disney’s The Lion King (Rice/John)
    • Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (RB Sherman/RM Sherman)
    • On Ilkley Moor bar t’at.
    • House of the Rising Sun (which is an ancient song, not just the pop record you immediately imagine)
    • Cool for Cats (Difford/Tilbrook)
    • Auld Lang Syne

So as you can see, we have amassed a fair few. More than an album’s worth, certainly.

What have I missed?

There must be other tunes we can bring to bear on this classic. Some of the melodies above require two verses of the carol to be sung together. It’s lucky for us there are 6 verses. Cool for Cats requires stringing three verses together and repeating the last lines. Again, two sets of three verses mean it fits.


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