25 December (Christmas Day) - O Little Town of Bethlehem

Yesterday - Up

A traditional carol rounds off this year's Advent Calendar, though many English viewers may not be aware that it was originally written in the USA, by the rector of the Church of the Holy Trinity, Philadelphia, and set to music by the church's organist Lewis Redner.

The carol was sung to Redner's tune St Louis (as it still is today in the US) for almost fifty years before Vaughan Williams adapted the English folk ballad The Ploughboy's Dream (collected from a Surrey labourer named Henry Garman) to produce the tune Forest Green.

Merry Christmas to all, and a happy New Year!

Music: Traditional English, adapted by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Words: Phillips Brooks
Musicians: Tony Evershed, Kathleen Jowitt

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 to-night.

O morning stars, together
Proclaim the holy birth!
And praises sing to God the King,
And peace to men on earth.
For Christ is born of Mary,
And, gathered all above,
While mortals sleep, the angels keep
Their watch of wondering love.

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 in us to-day.
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell;
Oh, come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord Emmanuel!