Durham University - Alternative sheep music

December 17, 2009

The Christmas carol While Shepherds Watched their Flocks by Night was originally sung to a different tune, research suggests. The traditional song once had the same melody used for the Yorkshire folksong Ilkley Moor. The study by hymnologist Jeremy Dibble, professor at the department of music at Durham University, found that the tune sung by carollers today is one of many variations used in the song's 300-year history. It was also the first carol to cross from the secular folk tradition to the Church of England, Professor Dibble said.

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