Each Tuesday in Advent, we look at the story behind a beloved Christmas song.
When you sing this carol from a hymnal, notice that the title of the tune is "St. Louis." It's not named for a city or a saint, but for the composer of the music, Lewis H. Redner (born December 15, 1830). Here's what happened: In 1865, Phillips Brooks, the famed Boston pastor, visited the Holy Land and stopped in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus. He was so moved that, returning home, he wrote this hymn for the children in his Sunday school. He handed the words to his organist, Lewis Redner, asking him to compose the melody. "If it's a good tune," added Brooks, "I'll name it 'St. Lewis' after you." Lewis couldn't come up with a suitable tune until the evening before the song was to be performed; but it was an instant hit, and Brooks did name if for the organist, changing the spelling to avoid embarrassing him.
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 his 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 to us today.We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell;O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel!
Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king. -- Matthew 2:1