The Babe of Bethlehem

by Pamela J. Marshall

for SATB, piano, tambourine (opt)

Duration 4.5 minutes


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About the Christmas anthem The Babe of Bethlehem

Transport your audience to the 19th-century, an era of enthusiastic American congregational singing. The Christmas anthem Babe of Bethlehem is a new setting of a song from Southern Harmony, the ultra-popular singing collection from the mid-19th century.

The Babe of Bethlehem brings spirit and energy to your concert or service. This isn’t a refined “pretty” tune. It has a stomping kind of energy. You probably won’t shout out the words, but that’s the mood you’ll bring to your audience.

This setting of The Babe of Bethlehem transforms the original verse-based song into a Christmas anthem. Short interludes and variations for every verse keeps your chorus engaged as the Babe, the shepherds, then the angels in shining flame, share in making “a glorious sound from heaven”.

The energy of the tune is balanced with a soaring middle section of melismatic lines. The forward momentum is put on hold for an ecstatic moment as the Christmas story unfolds: “They found no bed to lay his head, but in the ox’s manger.”

Different verses feature different choral voices, starting with the men in verse one. Octaves and fifths in the harmony bring the early American flavor.

The Babe of Bethlehem is part of a larger cantata, Shepherds and Angels, with violin, harp, and tambourine. Instrumentally, that set aligns well with Britten’s Ceremony of Carols or Susa’s Carols and Lullabies. Teach your chorus The Babe of Bethlehem this year, and expand to Shepherds and Angels next season.

View and listen

Preview score  Click the big button to download a free perusal score. The watermarked PDF is disabled for printing.

Download “The Babe of Bethlehem, SATB & piano, preview”

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Listen  The Master Singers of Lexington, MA sang The Babe of Bethlehem in 2010 in the Shepherds and Angels version with violin and harp.

Purchase options

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1. Buy a single copy. At the top of the page, choose Single Copy as the music format, and click the Add to Cart button.

2. Buy printing rights for your whole chorus for one low price. At the top of the page, choose Duplicate for Ensemble as the music format, and click Add to Cart.

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Additional information

Purchase options

Duplicate for ensemble, Single copy


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