O Little Town Of Bethlehem
Written By: Phillips Brooks
O Little Town of Bethlehem how still we see the lie brings tears
to many people's eyes during the Christmas season. It tells of the
town where baby Jesus was born in a manager. It also gives hope
that the world is not such a bad place after all. The song is sung
in many churches and synagogues across the world during Christmas
and it has touched the hearts of about everyone who hears it.
A man that had had a life changing experience 3 years prior
wrote O Little Town of Bethlehem. That man was Phillips Brooks an
Episcopalian minister who preached in Philadelphia and Boston. He
was also a 9th generation direct descendent of the Puritans.
Brooks was of course a man of great faith and believed in Jesus
and his word. While in Boston, he attended a service on December
24th 1865 at the Church of Nativity in Boston. He was
overwhelmed by the service, which lasted 5 hours and was full of
song and praise for Jesus. The service and the idea of worshiping
with fellow Christians so close to where the baby Jesus was born
changed Brooks's life forever.
However, it wasn't until 3 years later in 1868 that O Little
Town of Bethlehem was written. Brooks needed a song for the
children to sing in the annual Christmas program. That is when O
Little Town of Bethlehem was born. It is a 5-stanza hymninspired by
the awe that Brooks felt on that Christmas Eve in 1865.
The Organist in Brooks's church was depressed and uninspired
when Brooks presented him with the Lyrics to the song. He woke up
in the middle of the night after with the music in his head and
wrote it down. That organist was Lewis Redner. The song was
originally titled St. Louis after the organist though the spelling
was changed so as not to embarrass him.
Although Brooks wrote five stanzas to the carol, the fourth
stanza is often left out. I have included the lost stanza here:
"Where children pure and happy pray to the blessed Child, /
Where misery cries out to Thee, Son of the mother mild; / Where
charity stands watching and faith holds wide the door; / The dark
night wakes, the glory breaks, and Christmas comes once more."
36 children and 6 teachers performed the first performance of O
Little Town of Bethlehem at a church. Thereby making public one of
the best-loved Christmas carols of all time.
Among the singers to have recorded the song in the years since
are Kenny Rogers, Alabama, Marty Robbins, Gordon Lightfoot and the
legendary Johnny Cash.
O Little Town Of Bethlehem Lyrics
O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight
For Christ is born of Mary
And gathered all above
While mortals sleep, the angels keep
Their watch of wondering love
O morning stars together
Proclaim the holy birth
And praises sing to God the King
And Peace to men on earth
How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may his His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him still,
The dear Christ enters in.
O holy Child of Bethlehem
Descend to us, we pray
Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born to us today
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell
O come to us, abide with us
Our Lord Emmanuel