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#5: O Little Town of Bethlehem

O Little Town of BethlehemPhillips Brooks, one of 19th-century America’s best-loved preachers, was ministering to a Philadelphia church when he wrote his now-famous verses at Christmastime in 1868, three years after a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. He was inspired by the nighttime view of Bethlehem from the Hills of Palestine, and the memory was, he said, “still singing in my soul.” His organist, Lewis Redner, who was professionally a highly successful real-estate broker and on Sundays a leader in the Sunday school, set Brooks’ words to music for the church’s children’s choir, and “O Little Town of Bethlehem” was subsequently taken up by the rest of the world.

Lyrics

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 given!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may his His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him still,
The dear Christ enters in.

O holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us, we pray.
Cast out our sin and enter in,
Be born to 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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