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 given!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
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
Bethlehem was prophesied to be the birthplace of the Messiah. As we read in Matthew 2:3-6:
3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,
6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
Now if we examine the lyrics we see why this is a favorite carol. The first verse discusses the quiet solitude of Bethlehem. It was not (as far as I can tell) a major city in Judea. However it is here that Jesus was born. The second verse talks about how the angels kept watch and the morning stars proclaimed His birth. The third verse talks about the gift given to man by the birth of the Savior. In John 3:16 we read:
16 ¶ For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
The ending of the third verse is poignant. "Where meek souls will receive him still, the dear Christ enters in." This is the gift given to us, that He may enter our lives and bring us out of sin if we will follow Him and keep His commandments.
The fourth verse is probably not as well known. At least I can't recall hearing it in the recordings of this song. However, I feel that this is a prayer each of us who believe that Jesus is the Christ should have in our hearts. To willingly invite Him in to change us and become like him is our goal in life.
My plan is to each day take a Christmas carol and do a similar analysis.