The history of Christmas carols Part 3

Pam Griffin | 315-4491 | @DestinLogPam | pgriffin@thedestinlog.com

The songs of Christmas tell the story of an event that happened more than 2,000 years ago. Carols, sung all over the world in numerous languages, spread good cheer, a joyous spirit and the real meaning of Christmas.

Mary, Did You Know

One of the newer Christmas songs, already a classic, "Mary, Did You Know" was written by Gaither Band singer and comedian Mark Lowry in 1984 as a monologue for a Christmas musical at his church.

"Mary, did you know that your baby boy would give sight to a blind man?

Mary, did you know that your baby boy would calm a storm with his hand?

Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?

And when you kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God."

Lowry told The Log the idea for the song came from his mother, who told him "if anybody knew Jesus was virgin born, Mary knew it." The song gives a new viewpoint of the Christmas story by raising numerous questions about Mary and her knowledge of Jesus.

Years from now, Lowry's most enduring legacy may be this beautiful song as it takes its place among the best-loved Christmas carols in the world.

O Little Town of Bethlehem

“O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie!

Above the 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.”

Christmas Eve, 1865. A giant of a man, 6-foot-6 and almost 300 pounds, rides horseback across the “Field of the Shepherds” on his way from Jerusalem to Bethlehem to worship in the Church of the Nativity.

This young preacher, Phillips Brooks, was so moved by this experience, of watching the shepherds tending their sheep and looking up at the beautiful star-lit sky and assisting in a midnight service at the church that he later wrote:

“I remember standing in the old church in Bethlehem, close to the spot where Jesus was born, when the whole church was ringing hour after hour with splendid hymns of praise to God, how again and again it seemed as if I could hear voices I knew well, telling each other of the Wonderful Night of the Savior’s birth.”

In 1868, while Brooks was searching for a new carol for the children to sing in the Sunday school Christmas program at his church, Holy Trinity in Philadelphia, the memories of his trip returned. He then wrote the beautiful carol, “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”

This gentle giant is said to have won the hearts of people with his preaching and writing as few clergymen have ever done — and he will be forever remembered for one of the most popular Christmas carols to survive the test of time.