For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
— Luke 2:11
Though his sermons were masterpieces, today they gather dust, moldering on the shelves of antiquarians like myself. Yet he still lives and has a revival every year about Christmastime. He is not known for the erudition of his sermons, for the eloquence of his speaking, but rather for the simplicity of one little poem he wrote.
I am talking about the Reverend Phillips Brooks, author of “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” On Christmas Eve, in the year 1865, he arrived at the little town of Bethlehem and was struck by the sublimity, the beauty, the simplicity, the quietness, the darkness of that little town in whose streets there shone the Light of the World. Of that town and of that time, he wrote, “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight”—that night, when the Light of the World came into the darkness of Bethlehem.
As long as the Church shall last, Phillips Brooks and his little poem will be remembered. And as “God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His heaven,” so this Christmas hymn captures the stillness, the wonder, and the awe of Christmas. It happens every year it is sung: “where meek hearts will receive him still, the dear Christ enters in.”