O little town of Bethlehem – lyrics for today
Carols with Justice, Simple Living Works
Verse 1: Phillips Brooks, 1868
Verse 2: John Becker
Verse 3: Rae E. Whitney
There will be no Christmas tree or traditional festivities in the place of Jesus Christ’s birth this year in response to the thousands killed in the conflict in the Holy Land. Instead, the focus in the Church of the Nativity and Manger Square in Bethlehem will be on praying for peace. Amidst the rubble and ruins, may our voices rise to declare that the light of hope will persist in the small West Bank town where the Christmas story unfolded.
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.
When lives of humble service preach
The Good News to the poor,
When troubled minds or bodies find
A welcome at our door,
When healing hearts and hands lift
The lowly from the dust,
Then ring the bells and sing Noels:
For Christ is born in us.
No longer dreamless, Bethlehem,
You bear the wounds of war;
Can words of peace make conflict cease,
When freedom is no more?
No! Therefore work for justice,
Let swords thrust none apart.
When all are free, the world may see
Christ born in every heart!