O Little Town of Bethlehem   8 comments

Christian Pilgrims at Bethlehem, Palestine, Ottoman Empire, 1890

Image Source = Wikipedia

Hymn Source = The Hymnal 1982, of The Episcopal Church

Words by Phillips Brooks (1835-1893), an Episcopal priest who served as Bishop of Massachusetts (1892-1893)

Brooks finalized these words in 1868.  He had begun to write them after attending a five-hour-long Christmas Eve service (10:00 P.M.-3:00 A.M.) at the Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem, Palestine, Ottoman Empire.  Most U.S. hymnals exclude the fourth verse for reasons that make no sense to me.



1.  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.

2.  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.

3.  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 sin,

where meek souls will receive him, still the dear Christ enters in.

4.  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.

5.  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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