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December 19

"O Little Town of Bethlehem" was written by Phillips Brooks in 1868 while he was rector of the Church of the Holy Trinity in Philadelphia. The lyrics were inspired by a trip Brooks had taken to Bethlehem three years earlier. Brooks, who would go on to become the Episcopal Bishop of Massachusetts, wrote the lyrics for the Christmas service and asked the church organist, Lewis Redner, to write a tune. In an interview in 1924, Redner said, "Neither Mr. Brooks nor I ever thought the carol or the music to it would live beyond that Christmas of 1868."

This piece is performed by Andy Chase, his second contribution to Hark! this year. Like his other contribution, he mixes multiple takes of his own playing together to get a richer sound.

Downloads: mp3

O Little Town of Bethlehem

Performed by Andy Chase on banjo

Words: Phillips Brooks, 1868.
Music: ST. LOUIS, Lewis Henry Redner, 1868.

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 all 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,
Descent to us, we pray;
Cast our 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!

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