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"O Little Town of Bethlehem"

Traditional religious Christmas carol


Sandi Patty

Sandi Patty

William Morris Agency
The words to the popular traditional religious Christmas carol "O Little Town of Bethlehem" were written by an Episcopal priest named Phillips Brooks in 1867 after a visit to the town of Bethlehem two years prior. The music, simply titled "St. Louis," was written by Lewis H. Redner the following year in 1868. Redner was Brooks’ organist at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is said that the tune came to him on Christmas Eve, and was first sung the next day.

"O 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.

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!

Source: Public domain

The carol has been covered by artists from just about every style of music. From Kenny Chesney, Sarah McLachlan and Alabama to Elvis Presley, Emmylou Harris and Frank Sinatra -- secular artists have done the song justice for years. As for Christian artists, there are several great versions out there for your listening enjoyment. The Top Christian versions of the carol are found in the following list ...

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