Sunday, December 03, 2017

Brooks: O little town of Bethlehem

Sunday, December 3, 2017
    Advent I
    Commemoration of Francis Xavier, Apostle of the Indies, Missionary, 1552
    When [Herod] had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’”
    —Matthew 2:4-6 (NIV)
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 giv’n!
So God imparts to human hearts
    The blessings of His Heav’n.
No ear may hear 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 sins, and enter in,
    Be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels
    The great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us,
    Our Lord Emmanuel.
    ... Phillips Brooks (1835-1893), Christmas Songs and Easter Carols, New York: E.P. Dutton, 1904, p. 11 (see the book)
    See also Matt. 2:4-6; Mic. 5:2; Luke 1:77-79; 2:8-14
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, You are our Shepherd still.

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