Oh Little Town of Bethlehem
“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.”
In 1685 a man named Philip Brooks, from Philadelphia, was riding from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. Even in 1685 Bethlehem was very different than it was in Jesus’ time, but Brooks was so amazed that the savior was born in that little town. Three years later while assisting in a Christmas Eve service, he was inspired to write the poem. Brooks gave the poem to his organist, and legend has it that the the Sunday school choir sang his song the very next day!
In the book I’m reading called “Silent Night: The Stories Behind 40 Beloved Christmas Carols” David McLaughlin says,
“As Brooks sat in the silence of the hills, that first nativity must not have seemed so long ago, because the consequences of it were still very present in his mind , just as they are still present in the world today.”
Even in an age of weapons, technology, hurt and suffering, “faith hold wide the door.” Bethlehem has changed over the year just like the rest of the world, but Christ is still here! He is still saving people! No matter how long ago the first nativity was, it will be Christmas once more!
Here is the original poem!
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!”
Thanks for reading! I’m not gonna write one on the weekend so you will have to wait until Monday to get another”story behind”! Monday also happens to be my birthday!!!!! THIRTEEN!!!
-Katie Ann Huy