Saturday, December 10, 2011

'O Little Town of Bethlehem' remembered long after writer's death

From Alabama-

The famous preacher had been greatly inspired by a year-long visit to the Holy Land during the last year of America’s Civil War. He had been a verse-writer since early childhood.

Raised in a strict Episcopalian home (with a long line of Puritan ancestors), he was taught the hymns of the church. By the time he enrolled at Harvard College, he could recite more than 200 hymns. Through the years, his sermons contained references to those songs of the church and his recollections of his trip to the places where Jesus had lived.

In a Christmas week letter to his parents, the man who would become one of the most famous preachers of his time wrote of seeing “... shepherds keeping watch over their flocks.” It was a scene that fascinated him, maybe, more so than seeing other Biblical sights.

Phillips Brooks, 33 years old, had become rector of Philadelphia’s Holy Trinity Church and had become widely known for his preaching, which attracted huge crowds each Sunday.

In time, he became rector of Boston’s great Trinity Church. In 1868, during preparation for a Christmas Sunday school service, Brooks wrote a simple carol and asked church organist Lewis H. Redner to write the music for it.

More here-

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