The First Noel

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Carol, England (UK).

The First Noel” (also written “The First Noël” and “The First Nowell”) is a traditional classical English carol, most likely from the 18th century, although possibly earlier.

Click here to scroll down to a more detailed song history


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”First Noel” (instrumental, 5:36 – 3/4 – 90 bpm)


“The First Noel” lyrics

1. The first Nowell the angels did say
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay;
In fields where they lay, keeping their sheep,
On a cold winter’s night that was so deep:
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.

2. They looked up and saw a star,
Shining in the east, beyond them far:
And to the earth it gave great light,
And so it continued both day and night
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.

3. And by the light of that same star,
Three Wise Men came from country far;
To seek for a King was their intent,
And to follow the star whersoever it went
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.

4. This star drew nigh to the north-west;
O’er Bethlehem it took its rest;
And there it did both stop and stay
Right over the place where Jesus lay.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.

5. Then entered in those Wise Men three,
Fell reverently upon their knee,
And offered there in his presence,
Their gold and myrrh and frankincense.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.

6. Then let us all with one accord
Sing praises to our heavenly Lord
That hath made heaven and earth of nought,
And with his blood mankind hath bought.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.

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“The First Noel” Music Score with chords in D

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First Noel_Singing Bell

“The First Noel” Music Score with chords in C

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First Noel_C_Singing Bell


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To download a ready-to-print PDF of “The First Noel” for music activities with a music sheet, lyrics and a colouring sheet for kids, right click (or tap and hold, on mobile devices) on the following link, then choose “Save link as…”.

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“The First Noel” free PDF download – Singing Bell


“The First Noel” Karaoke Video


“The First Noel” Teaching ideas

1.

This melody extends on the octave of the major scale (here is re-re’, it could be do-do’). If you teach music you can sing the first verse, analyze it : it starts from the 3th note of the scale, raises from the base and returns to the dominant.

Ask your students to transform this part of the melody at different major scales. It is a good theoretical exercise.

Go on by singing the different tonalities and find which of them suit your voice.

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2.

Make this long song with the recurring melody more interesting by dramatizing the story of the First Noel and enjoy it!

The parts: the shepherds, the Three Wise Men, Jesus with his parents. If you there are more of you, you can also add the angels, the star who moves and stops over Bethlehem, the animals around nativity.



“The First Noel” Song History

In its current form, it is of Cornish origin, and it was first published in Carols Ancient and Modern (1823) and Gilbert and Sandys Carols (1833), both of which were edited by William Sandys and arranged, edited and with extra lyrics written by Davies Gilbert for Hymns and Carols of God. Today, it is usually performed in a four-part hymn arrangement by the English composer John Stainer, first published in his Carols, New and Old in 1871.

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