Saturday Morning Devotional – 4th in the Song Series
Let’s continue looking at the lyrics of some of our favorite Christmas songs. The 4th song in the series is “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”
This song is such a beautiful story of Christ’s birth. However, when you look closely, it is so much more than that.
Just like many of the other songs we sing at Christmas, the lyrics speak of the reason He came to earth – the reason He lived among us – to give us the gift of salvation. Read the lyrics carefully!
A Brief History of “O Little Town of Bethlehem”
“O Little Town of Bethlehem” was written (like many of the other hymns we have looked at) by a preacher. Phillips Brooks was an Episcopalian preacher in the Philadelphia and Massachusetts areas in the mid 1800s.
At one point in his ministry, he had the opportunity to visit the Holy Land. During that visit, he attended a Christmas Eve service at Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity.
(Can you imagine this experience?)
This made such an impression on him that he wanted to share his experience with others. A few years later, he got the opportunity. He wrote the song, “O Little Town of Bethlehem” for a children’s event at his church, hoping the kids and the congregation would be able to see a little of what he experienced that night in the Holy Land.
When you really think about what you are singing, you can almost picture it, all of these years later. I challenge you to do just that.
Lyrics of “O Little Town of Bethlehem”
The lyrics of this song are public domain, so I will share all of them. Read them thoughtfully.
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 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
(Notice the cross and the manger in this picture!)
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!
The lyrics that really speak to me are in the pictures above. These really stand out to me because of their deeper meaning.
This is another song about our Savior’s birth that points to the cross. The entire song is beautiful, but the parts that allude to our salvation have such a rich meaning.
The thought of Christ coming to this world of sin, knowing that His fate would be to die for us is overwhelming. That is more love than we can even begin to imagine. That is Christmas!
“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a Ruler of Israel will come from you, One Whose origins are from the distant past.” Micah 5:2
Listen to “O Little Town of Bethlehem”
Remember to really think about the song and what it is saying. Put yourself in that setting many years ago as you listen. It is beautiful! Click here to listen to it!
This Christmas season, as you sing all the wonderful songs about the birth of Jesus, try to put yourself in that setting. Let’s get a fresh vision of Christmas this year!
Please share other Christmas songs that have special meaning to you or take you back to the time and place of His birth.
Until next week…
“Let the whole earth shout to the Lord; be jubilant, shout for joy, and sing.” Psalms 98:4