What are the lyrics to ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’

Written in 1868, 'O Little Town of Bethlehem' is a much loved Christmas carol the world over. Here are its lyrics

Why are there two melodies for 'O Little Town of Bethlehem'?

Who wrote the lyrics for ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ and who composed the tune?

This carol, which is popular both sides of the Atlantic, was written by American priest Phillips Brooks in 1868 after he was inspired by a visit to Bethlehem in 1865. His organist Lewis Redner then set the lyrics to music, and this is the version often sung in the USA today.

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Why are there two melodies for ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’?

However this is not the version sung in the UK and Commonwealth. Here the words are usually sung to the tune ‘Forest Green’, which Vaughan Williams had adapted from  an English folk ballad called ‘The Ploughboy’s Dream’.

What are the lyrics to ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’?

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 hear His coming
But in this world of sin
Where meek souls will receive him still
The dear Christ enters in

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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
O come to us, abide with us
Our Lord Emmanuel