This blog is about the story of my family here in America. We arrived in the 1630s as Puritans, and became the common folk of the New World.

Christmas songs explained - The First Noel

This is one of my all-time favorite Christmas songs to play on the piano. I haven't sung since Junior High boys chorus, but I know the words, and I sing them to myself. I love playing Christmas music on the piano and having people sing along.

The first Noel
The angels did say
Was to certain poor shepherds in
Fields as they lay

In fields were they lay
Keeping their sheep
On a cold winter's night that was so deep.

"Noel", is the the time of Christmas from December 24th to January 6th. When the angels "certained" the shepherds, they were assuring them. "Keeping sheep" just meant tending to their flock, not keeping them as in making sure they were hanging on to them.

Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel

These words were written hundreds of years before the modern country of Israel was established. The Israel referred to here is group of people descended from Isreal, also called Jacob, the Jews. The King of the Jews is, of course, Jesus Christ.

They looked up and saw a star
Shining in the east
Beyond them far

In the second verse, you have to sing "look-ed" as two syllables, the way it was in the 18th century, to make the rhythm work.

Here is an amazing four-part harmony version, all done by the same man. Note that he got the "looked" correct.

And to the earth it gave great light
And so it continued both day and night

Noel, Noel, born is the King of Israel!
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