Written Christmas Eve in 1867, by Phillips Brooks, the song “O Little Town of Bethlehem” was inspired two years earlier when Brooks was actually in Bethlehem for a Christmas Eve service.
The line that stands out to me is, “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.” To think of the impact of that night and the birth of Christ is mind boggling. We cannot fully comprehend all of the ramifications and realities of God becoming man born of a woman as a baby. Every fear of history, the present, and the future coming together to be put to rest by the Savior of man. Every hope of every heart that has dared to dream of more than its present reality culminating in the one who embodies life and promise and hope.
In a humble stable in that little village in the middle of a desert 2000 years ago time opened and eternity stepped into the confines of now, the infinite became like the finite. History was split. Hell was shaken. Mankind was given hope for redemption.
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 Heav’n. No ear may hear His coming, but in this world of sin, Where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.
Where children pure and happy pray to the blessèd Child, Where misery cries out to Thee, Son of the mother mild; Where charity stands watching and faith holds wide the door, The dark night wakes, the glory breaks, and Christmas comes once more.
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!