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Angels from the Realms of Glory

[ Roud 8358 ; Ballad Index Pet069 ; words James Montgomery (1772-1854)]

Maddy Prior and the Carnival Band sang Angels from the Realms of Glory to a traditional French tune on their CDs A Tapestry of Carols (1987), Carols at Christmas, (1998), and An Evening of Carols and Capers (2005).

The Beeston Methodist Carol Choir sang Angels from the Realms of Glory in 1997 on the CD of village carols from Beeston in Nottinghamshire, Brightest and Best, and on the Smithsonian Folkways anthology English Village Carols. Ian Russell commented in the liner notes:

Of all the version of this carol, this setting has the widest distribution. The words are by James Montgomery and were first published in Sheffield in his journal Iris in 1816. The music is by William Matthews (c. 1820) of St Mary’s Gate, Nottingham, and was published by the composer as Angels from the Realms of Glory: A Christmas Anthem. Versions of this same tune are found in South Yorkshire at Worrall and Dungworth (Russell 1996) and in the West Country (Dunstan 1929).

BACCApella (the singers of Bacca Pipes Folk Club; amongst them at the time were Maggie Boyle, Lynda Hardcastle, Fay Hield, Mike and Helen Hockenhull, and Tim Moon) sang Angels from the Realms of Glory in 1999 on their privately released CD The Haworth Set.


Maddy Prior sings Angels from the Realms of Glory

Angels from the realms of glory,
Wing your flight o’er all the earth;
Ye, who sang Creation’s story,
Now proclaim Messiah’s birth.

Chorus (after each verse):
Gloria in Excelsis Deo

Shepherds in the fields abiding,
Watching o’er your flocks by night,
God with man is now residing
Yonder shines the infant light.

Sages leave your contemplations,
Brighter visions beam afar;
Seek the great desire of nations,
Ye have seen his natal star.

Saints before the altar bending,
Watching long in hope and fear
Suddenly the Lord descending
In his temple shall appear.

Though an infant, now we knew him,
He shall fill his father’s throne
Gather all the nations to him
Everyone shall him bow down.