the composer of this famous Christmas carol, was the minister of Holy Trinity Church in Philadelphia and had visited Bethlehem in December of 1865. Something about the beauty and simplicity of that
visit stayed with Phillips Brooks when he returned to America. Several years later, when he wanted a new song of Christmas for the children to sing at his church, he reached back in memory for
inspiration from his Holy Land visit. The poem he wrote painted in words the sights and sounds of that little town of Bethlehem he had visited.
Within the beauty
of "O Little Town of Bethlehem" is one of God's promises from the prophet Micah: "Bethlehem Ephrathah, you are one of the little towns of Judah, but from you, I will bring a ruler for Israel, whose
family line goes back to ancient times." (Micah 5:2, GNB).
The last verse is
a prayer reminding us of the reason
we celebrate Christmas today:
"O Holy Child of
Descend to us, we pray.
Cast out our sin, and enter in,
Be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels,
The great glad tidings tell.
Oh come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord Emmanuel!"