Daily Readings/ Editorial
Scriptures to be read before the sermon on Sunday, December 4:
Monday: Isaiah 9:2-7
Tuesday: Luke 2:21-32
Wednesday: Mark 2:1-12
Thursday: Mark 4:35-41
Friday: Mark 15:33-39
Saturday: John 20:19-28
"O Little Town Of Bethlehem"
On December 24, 1865, Phillips Brooks traveled by horseback from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. There he attended a five-hour Christmas Eve service at the Church of the Nativity. He was deeply moved! Later, he wrote about standing close to the spot where Jesus was born as the whole church was ringing hour after hour with splendid hymns of praise to God. It seemed as though they were voices he knew and they were telling each other of the wonderful night of the Savior’s birth.
Three years later, as he prepared for the Christmas season, he decided to compose an original Christmas hymn for the children to sing during their annual program. Recalling his wonderful experience that night in Bethlehem, he wrote a hymn and handed the words to his organist, Lewis Redner, and said, “… why not write a new tune for my poem. If it is a good tune, I will name it after you.”
Lewis struggled with his assignment. He simply felt no inspiration. But, on the night before the Christmas program, he awoke with music ringing in his soul. He jotted down the melody, then went back to sleep. The next day, a group of six Sunday School teachers and thirty-six children sang the song. Brooks was so pleased with the tune that he did indeed name it for his organist, changing the spelling to “St. Louis” so as not to embarrass Mr. Redner.
Brooks is now considered to be one of the greatest preachers our country has ever known. One person described his presentations as powerful sermons with bursts of lightning. But, we probably know him best for the hymn he composed with the help of his organist which can be found in our hymnal under the title “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”
“…Bethlehem … though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel ….” (Micah 5:2)
(Adapted from Robert J. Morgan, Then Sings My Soul – 150 of the World’s Greatest Hymn Stories)