Famous Christmas Carols – Story Behind the Carol – “O Little Town of Bethlehem”

The Christmas Holidays have become controversial. There are those who do not want the “state” to allow a Creche to be placed on public property or Christmas mentioned in state schools.  Some people object to the greeting, “Merry Christmas.” A few object saying Jesus wasn’t actually born on the 25th of December. Others say the holiday stems from a pagan festival and still others who claim to believe in Jesus as Messiah say it is wrong to celebrate Christmas.

Regardless of those who would end Christmas, Christmas remains a very special time in the United States and around the world. It seems to me there is only one reason for this – Jesus Christ changed the world and He changes lives when a person comes to know Him. Below is an example of the outcome of a changed life.

Phillips Brooks was a clergyman who was born on December 13, 1835, in Boston, Massachusetts. He is best known for the words he wrote to a Christmas Carol we know as “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” Brooks was a an Episcopalian Minister and a well-loved deacon. He was a man of renown, but of him it is said:

Although learned, Brooks was not an academician. He neither anguished over the shattering new findings of science and scholarship nor argued the case for Christianity philosophically. Rather, luminously and passionately, he presented to his people the full and joyous life open to all who accepted Christ as the revelation of what God is and man may be.

Concerning the writing of the beloved Carol, he is quoted as saying:

I re­mem­ber stand­ing in the old church in Beth­le­hem, close to the spot where Je­sus was born, when the whole church was ring­ing hour after hour with splen­did hymns of praise to God, how again and again it seemed as if I could hear voic­es I knew well, tell­ing each other of the Won­der­ful Night of the Sav­ior’s birth.

While Christmas, the holiday, may have become controversial, nothing changes the truth of God’s word and the truth is:

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:4-11


Author’s manuscript of first stanza

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 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.

Where children pure and happy pray to the blessèd 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.

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!




About jlue

I am a grandmother of seven and I like to garden, read, study the Bible, and spend time with family. I am not very politically active, but very interested in who is elected to lead our country.
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