The Three Drovers

This Christmas carol was written by Australian teacher, script-writer and poet John Harry Rupert Angior Wheeler (1901-1984) (ref) and first published in 1948 by Chappell Music Ltd, London, UK.

It appears to have been relatively unknown until it was used as the title track for a musical Christmas play for children, which was first performed in 1960 and published in 1961 (ref), by Australian pianist and composer and music broadcasting pioneer, William Garnet "Billy" James (28 August 1892 – 10 March 1977).

A link to published sheet music is provided below.   As well as this, the sheet music may also be available from the Australian Music Centre.

The song doesn't appear to have been published often in hymnals.  But there are a number of reports on the internet of it being widely used in Australian primary schools and at carol services.



Downloads



Examples


Small choir, unaccompanied:



Singer with string-led backing band - professional recording:



Singer, contemporary piano-led accompaniment:



Instrumental - horn quartet:


Lyrics

The lyrics are copyright so cannot be reproduced here. But they are currently available on this website. A rough outline is:
1. Across the plains one Christmas night,
Three drovers riding blythe and gay,
Looked up and saw a starry light,
More radiant than the Milky Way;
And on their hearts such wonder fell,
They sang with joy "Noel! Noel!
Noel! Noel! Noel!"

2. The black swans flew across the sky,
The wild dogs called across the plain,
The starry lustre blazed on high,
Still echoed on the Heavenly strain;
And still they sang "Noel! Noel!",
Those drovers three, "Noel! Noel!
Noel! Noel! Noel!"

3. The air was dry with summer heat
And smoke was on the yellow moon;
But from the Heavens, faint and sweet,
Came floating down a wond'rous tune,
And as they heard, they sang full well,
Those drovers three, "Noel! Noel!
Noel! Noel! Noel!"


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KEEP IN CASE ORIGINAL IS REMOVED, BUT DO NOT DISPLAY
1. Across the plains one Christmas night,
Three drovers riding blythe and gay,
Looked up and saw a starry light,
More radiant than the Milky Way;
And on their hearts such wonder fell,
They sang with joy "Noel! Noel!
Noel! Noel! Noel!"

2. The black swans flew across the sky,
The wild dogs called across the plain,
The starry lustre blazed on high,
Still echoed on the Heavenly strain;
And still they sang "Noel! Noel!",
Those drovers three, "Noel! Noel!
Noel! Noel! Noel!"

3. The air was dry with summer heat
And smoke was on the yellow moon;
But from the Heavens, faint and sweet,
Came floating down a wond'rous tune,
And as they heard, they sang full well,
Those drovers three, "Noel! Noel!
Noel! Noel! Noel!"

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