If ye would hear the angels sing

History

The earliest version of If ye would hear the angels sing in the Cambridge University Library dates from 1965 (classmark MS.Tranchell.2.343), composed for SATB & organ. A 1974 version was arranged for ATT/BrBB choir & organ (classmark MS.Tranchell.1.55). A note at the end of the later version reads "This version [in C major] is revised from the original for TBrBB in F and the version for SATB in D flat", but the "original" does not seem to be present in the CUL.

The D flat SATB version was published in 2008 as CMS 042 by Oxford University Press for the Church Music Society and can be purchased through various retailers, e.g. https://www.rscmshop.com/a2206.html 

Recordings

The work has been recorded at least three times, featuring on the following CDs:

Nine Lessons & Carols, King's College Choir, Stephen Cleobury (Conductor), 2012, (recording of the service from December 2010) available through Hyperion http://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/dc.asp?dc=D_KGS0001 (the web page includes sound clips of all tracks including If ye would hear.

A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, Choir of King's College Cambridge, 2009, (recording of the service from December 2008) available on Amazon (and others).

Dormi Jesu: A Caius Christmas, 2014, Delphian http://www.cai.cam.ac.uk/recordings/dormi-jesu-a-caius-christmas

Words

The words are by Dora Greenwell (1821-1882):

If ye would hear the angels sing
‘Peace on earth and mercy mild’,
Think of him who was once a child,
On Christmas Day in the morning.

If ye would hear the angels sing,
Rise, and spread your Christmas fare;
‘Tis merrier still the more that share,
On Christmas Day in the morning.

Rise and bake your Christmas bread:
Christians, rise! the world is bare,
And blank, and dark with want and care,
Yet Christmas comes in the morning.

If ye would hear the angels sing,
Christians! See ye let each door
Stand wider than it e’er stood before,
On Christmas Day in the morning.

Rise, and open wide the door;
Christians, rise! The world is wide,
And many there be that stand outside,
Yet Christmas comes in the morning.