May the blessings of the Savior of the world fill your heart and life on this day we remember His birth.
My husband came across the history behind the Christmas carol, O Little Town of Bethlehem on Wikipedia and suggested I share it with you.
The text was written by Phillips Brooks (1835–1893), an Episcopal priest, then rector of Church of the Holy Trinity, Philadelphia and later of Trinity Church, Boston. He was inspired by visiting the village of Bethlehem in the Sanjak of Jerusalem in 1865. Three years later, he wrote the poem for his church, and his organist Lewis Redner (1831-1908) added the music.
Redner recounted the story of his composition:
As Christmas of 1868 approached, Mr. Brooks told me that he had written a simple little carol for the Christmas Sunday-school service, and he asked me to write the tune to it. The simple music was written in great haste and under great pressure. We were to practice it on the following Sunday. Mr. Brooks came to me on Friday, and said, ‘Redner, have you ground out that music yet to “O Little Town of Bethlehem”? I replied, ‘No,’ but that he should have it by Sunday. On the Saturday night previous my brain was all confused about the tune. I thought more about my Sunday-school lesson than I did about the music. But I was roused from sleep late in the night hearing an angel-strain whispering in my ear, and seizing a piece of music paper I jotted down the treble of the tune as we now have it, and on Sunday morning before going to church I filled in the harmony. Neither Mr. Brooks nor I ever thought the carol or the music to it would live beyond that Christmas of 1868.
My recollection is that Richard McCauley, who then had a bookstore on Chestnut Street west of Thirteenth Street, printed it on leaflets for sale. Rev. Dr. Huntington, rector of All Saints’ Church, Worcester, Mass., asked permission to print it in his Sunday-school hymn and tune book, called The Church Porch, and it was he who christened the music ‘Saint Louis.’
O Little Town of Bethlehem
by Phillips Brooks
Music by Lewis Redner
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 street 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 hear 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 in us today
We hear the Christmas angels The great glad tidings tell
Oh, come to us, abide with us Our Lord Immanuel!