O Little Town Of Bethlehem is very recognizable as a Christmas song.
The words go hand in hand with the music to paint such a beautiful story with words.
It is one of those songs that has a feeling of lightness and calmness. The notes carry you from one moment to the next.
Track #9 of 15 songs on Christmas Piano.
In 1868, Phillips Brooks, a Bishop In Philadelphia wrote the hymn, O Little Town Of Bethlehem. A church organist by the name of Lewis Redner created the music from a dream he had. Phillips Brooks was recalling a trip to the Holy Land in 1865 where he visited Bethlehem while writing the words to this song.
This hymn was actually written for children in Phillips Brook’s Sunday School in his parish that he attended. The hymn was printed on an informal leaflet in 1868 and then appeared in the Sunday School Hymnal in 1871.
According to history, Phillips Brooks traveled on hoseback between Jerusalem and Bethlehem on Christmas Eve. Before dark he rode out of town into the area where shepherds saw the star.
There is an omitted original fourth stanza that was written for the children.
Where children pure and happy
Pray to the blessed Child,
Where misery cries out to thee,
Son of the undefiled:Where charity stands watching
And faith holds wide the door,
The dark night wakes, the glory breaks,
And Christmas comes once more
Charles Wesley’s original song was made up of ten four-line verses, rather than the eight-lline longer verses currently. I have a different source that says it was first published in 1739, so there is a conflict in my research that I cannot resolve at this time. I believe that the difference is that it took many years with different people to perfect it and get it into the version we know today. George Whitfield also cut the final verses, which are now mostly forgotten.
It has been stated that Lewis Redner felt a line, Son of the undefiled, led to some criticism because of the immaculate conception. He changed that line to read, Son of the Mother Mild, but later omitted the third verse alltogether.
Source: 1) Discipleship Ministries 2) Christmas Carols Songbook 3) Hymns and Carols
Lyrics To O Little Town Of Bethlehem
O Little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep, the silent starts go by;
Yet in thy dark streets shinneth, 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 hear his coming, but in this world of sing,
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 in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels, the great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us, Our Lord Emmanuel!
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