Children's Song of the Nativity

Arranged by Linda Thomas for Hammered Dulcimer Players in the Key of G

"Children's Song of the Nativity" is a traditional English Christmas carol. The lyrics were written by Frances Chesterton and tell the story of children waiting for Christmas, travelling to welcome the baby Jesus and offering the Christ-child what little they can - their smiles and tears. Mary welcomes the children and invites them to sleep peacefully in the presence of God, a baby.

The music is based on an old English hymn tune called "Stowey". Stowey is a small village in South West England within the Chew Valley, in Somerset. Ralph Vaughan Williams adapted the music for this tune. The song is also well-known as "How Far Is It To Bethlehem."

Video 1

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VideoAbout the Lessons

1. Demonstration of the Tune Linda demonstrates this beautiful old English tune and tells us why she loves to play it, and how she will teach a basic melody, accompaniment, and then an embellished melody.
2. Discussion of Versions of This Tune Before delving into instruction, Linda discusses where different recorded versions of this tune are available.
3. Basic Melody,
Phrases 1-2
Linda begins…at the Beginning!  After describing the song form, Linda shows us the first two phrases of the Basic Melody.
4. Basic Melody,
Phrases 3-4
As she mentioned before, phrase 3 is different from the others, as we can see here, but the final phrase is like those before.
5. Putting the Parts Together Now that we've learned the parts, let's put them together!
6. Accompaniment,
Phrase 1 Part 1
Now that we have the melody under our belt, Linda takes us through the beginning of the accompaniment part.
7. Accompaniment,
Phrase 1 Part 2
This part includes a D7 (dominant) chord and Linda includes mention of when she uses double hammering and why.
8. Accompaniment,
Phrase 2
The second phrase is similar to the first, but the end chord pattern is played upside down to provide a "cadence" or ending.
9. Accompaniment,
Phrase 3
Here Linda changes the timing to match the change in chords.
10. Accompaniment,
Phrase 4
In the final phrase of the accompaniment, we return to the earlier rhythmic patterns.
11. Entire Accompaniment After learning on the pieces, it is time to put it together.  Feel free to practice this often.
12. Embellishment Ideas, Measures. 1-4 Linda uses a "rolled chord" embellishment in this section and shows where to find it.
13. Embellishment Ideas, Measures 5-8 Interval harmonies are the ideas that Linda uses in this section, together with a rolled chord.
14. Embellishment Ideas, Measures 8-12 Rolled chords and interval harmonies come together for this section.
15. Embellishment Ideas, Measures 12-16 Linda adds a four-note rolled chord to complete the embellishment ideas.
16. Embellished Melody All the Way Through Linda puts all the pieces together for an elegant arrangement.


  • Melody

  • Accompaniment

  • Melody with Embellishments


  • Melody
  • Accompaniment
  • Melody with Embellishments

Mobile Devices

  • Melody
  • Accompaniment
  • Melody with Embellishments

Music GlobeExtras

  • Lyrics to the tune

  • Enjoy the soprano voices of the boys of St. Patrick's Cathedral Choir, in Dublin, Ireland, as they sing this charming Christmas carol.
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