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 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;
O, come to us abide with us, Our Lord, Emmanuel.
When Phillips Brooks was 30 he visited the Holy Land. On Christmas Eve, 1865 he traveled by horseback to Bethlehem from Jerusalem to attend a Christmas Eve service. He remembered his moving experience three years later when he wanted to write an original hymn for the children to sing during their annual Christmas program. It was sung for the first time by 36 children and 6 Sunday school teachers in 1868.
*Hymn history is from Then Sings My Soul by Robert J. Morgan