Fabulous: On Ilkla Moor baht 'at?!

Tue, 15/12/2009 - 09:15 -- James Oakley

I have once had the fortune to take part in a carol service where While Shepherds Watched was sung to the tune of On Ilkla Moor baht 'at. It was a slight novelty: "Did you know that these words can be made to fit to this tune? What fun - let's do it!"

Now, however, I see that Professor Jeremy Dibble from Durham University is suggesting that On Ilkla Moor baht 'at may actually have been the original tune. Apparently, the songs we now know as Christmas Carols were originally considered too secular for use in church, so they were left as fireside songs. Gradually, in the 18th Century, they began to cross over and be used in church settings. While Shepherds Watched was one of the first to be used in church, and it was set to a more "churchy" tune.

I find that rather fun, and rather amusing. If Professor Dibble is right, anyone who wants to be a Romantic and go back to the original, most authentic, oldest version of things, should be pressing their local vicar to sing the Cranbrook version in their carol services. Kemsing and Woodlands folk know where to find me if they want to petition me on this one.

In the meantime, all join in please:

And glory shone around;
and glory shone around;
and glory shone around.

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