Advent Calendar | Dec. 8

17 Days Until Christmas

holly

SCRIPTURE

bible

“In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child.” (Luke 2:1-5)
holly

O LITTLE TOWN OF BETHLEHEM

LYRICS

The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. The church was originally commissioned in A.D. 327 by Constantine and his mother, Helena, over the site that is traditionally considered to be located over the cave that marks the birthplace of Jesus.

The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. The church was originally commissioned in A.D. 327 by Constantine and his mother, Helena, over the site that is traditionally considered to be located over the cave that marks the birthplace of Jesus.

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 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 to us today.
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell.
O come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord Emmanuel

holly

ABOUT THE CAROL

The author of “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” Phillip Brooks, was a well-known Episcopal preacher. He held a Doctorate of Divinity from Oxford University, was a teacher at Yale University, and stood firmly against slavery during the Civil War.

In 1865, when Brooks was rector of the Church of the Holy Trinity in Philadelphia, he took a yearlong vacation to travel in Europe and the Middle East, including the Holy Lands. On Dec. 24, he rode on horseback from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, where he attended a five-hour musical celebration at the Church of the Nativity.

Brooks wrote of that night: “Before dark, we rode out of town to the field where they say the shepherds saw the star. It is a fenced piece of ground with a cave in it (all the Holy Places are caves here), in which, strangely enough, they put the shepherds. The story is absurd, but somewhere in those fields we rode through the shepherds must have been. … As we passed, the shepherds were still ‘keeping watch over their flocks or leading them home to fold.’”

The experience served as a source for the carol.

Sources differ as to when the song was first sung – either 1866 or 1868 – to the music written for it by Lewis Redner.

Sources:

holly

praying-hands-columnPRAYER

May we find room in our hearts of the child of Bethlehem. Amen.
holly

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