'While shepherds watched' carol was sung to folk song 'Ilkley Moor' tune

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Washington, December 15 (ANI): Today's much-loved carol 'While shepherds watched' used to be commonly sung to the tune 'Cranbrook', better known as 'Ilkley Moor' ('On Ilkla Moor baht 'at"), says a study.

Professor Jeremy Dibble, a hymnologist in the Department of Music, Durham University, found that the tune is one of many variations used over the 300-year history of the carol.

During his research as Musical Editor of the forthcoming Dictionary of Hymnology, Prof Dibble discovered: "'While shepherds watched' was the first carol to cross over from secular traditions to the church. It was the only Christmas hymn to be approved by the Church of England in the eighteenth century and this allowed it to be disseminated across the country with the Book of Common Prayer. Only at the end of the eighteenth century was it joined by other well-known texts such as 'Hark the herald angels sing'.

"The most surprising and rather forgotten version of 'While shepherds watched' is sung to the famous 'Ilkley Moor' tune by Thomas Clark. The variety of tunes used in the 300-year history of this carol show that the lyrics are very popular. Some carol singers now feel its time to bring some of these classic tune variations back!"

The expert added: 'While shepherds watched' has had a most extraordinary genesis and its progression shows the remarkable journey of a Christmas carol through a wide variety of tunes cross different continents." (ANI)

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