This Christmas carol honors the birthplace of the nativity scene in the early Christian tradition. Bethlehem is in current day Palestine, but at the time, was under Roman rule in the days of either Herod the Great or Caesar Augustus. Today, the small city Bethlehem (population roughly 25,000 people) is used for Christmas celebrations on December 25th for Catholic and Protestant traditions, January 6th for Coptic and Syrian Orthodox traditions, and on January 19th for Armenian Orthodox traditions.

The Concino Children's Chorus performing O Little Town of Bethlehem.

Bethlehem’s most popular carol, O Little Town of Bethlehem, was written by an Episcopal priest in Boston in 1865. He wrote it to be used in his Christmas Sunday school service and was inspired after visiting Bethlehem earlier in the year. The song is paired most famously with a melody by organist , although the British Commonwealth and sometimes the Episcopal Church instead use the English folk song, Forest Green.


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

Away in a manger
No crib for a bed
The little Lord Jesus
Lay down His sweet head
The stars in the sky
Look down where He lay
The little Lord Jesus
Asleep on the hay
Asleep on the hay

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