O Little Town of Bethlehem

Melody - Lewis H. Redner

Phillips Brooks

O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by;
Yet in the 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 wond'ring 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 giv'n!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heav'n.
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. 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 Immanuel!

Phillips Brooks was an Episcopal priest from Philadelphia when he journeyed to the Holy Land in 1865. On Christmas Eve, while riding on horseback from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, he stopped at the Field of the Shepherds and watched as dusk enveloped the streets of the village. He then attended the five-hour service at the Church of the Nativity. For three years he kept these memories to himself, then he was moved to relate them to others as he prepared for the Christmas service in his parish. He gave a five stanza poem to the church organist, Lewis Redner, who provided the melody. It was first heard on December 27, 1868 and first appeared in the Episcopal hymnal in 1892 and has gone on to become one of America's favorite carols.

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