It’s rare to find a totally unknown American Christmas carol, and such a beautiful – though challenging – melody to boot. We found it under the title FREE GRACE on page 36 of George Miller’s Methodist Camp-Meeting Hymn Book from Dayton, Ohio. The book was copyrighted in 1833 and published in 1841. Nothing is known about Miller. There’s a similar song called VOICE TO THE SHEPHERDS in Youngstown, Ohio native Amos S. Hayden‘s Introduction to Sacred Music (Pittsburgh, 1835). We preferred Hayden’s title and Miller’s arrangement. Other than adding an alto, we’ve made minimal edits to the song. Miller wrote out all the held notes; we’ve replaced most of them by fermatas. We’d like to thank Nikos Pappas for his contributions to this research.
Learning the song takes some work. Here’s a video of members of the committee, plus friends and Cyrus the dog, singing the words.