“O Little Town of Bethlehem”


The quiet little town of Bethlehem is described, with the note that "the everlasting light" shines in its streets. The song describes the reactions of those who know of the event, and prays for the help of the holy child


This poem is sung to different tunes in Britain and America.The American tune is by Lewis H. Redner (1830-1908), but in Britain it is usually sung to "The Ploughboy's Dream" ("Forest Green"). There is a third tune by Walford Davies, rarely sung in Britain and hardly at all in America.

Philiips Brooks was most noted as a preacher; he had several volumes of sermons published. Of his poems, only four are mentioned in _Granger's Index to Poetry_, and this is the only one to be widely reprinted.

Bradley notes that Brooks was one of the few hymnwriters to actually visit the holy land. - RBW


  1. OBC 138, "O Little Town" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Silber-FSWB, p. 378, "Oh Little Town of Bethlehem" (1 text)
  3. Fuld-WFM, p. 402, "O Little Town of Bethlehem!"
  5. ADDITIONAL: Charles Johnson, One Hundred and One Famous Hymns (Hallberg, 1982), p. 132-133, "O Little Town of Bethlehem" (1 text, 1 tune)
  6. Ian Bradley, _The Penguin Book of Carols_ (1999), #55, "O Little Town of Bethlehem" (1 text)
  7. BI, FSWB378B


Author: Words: Phillips Brooks (1835-1893)
Earliest date: 1874 ("The Church Porch")
Found in: US Britain