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Iconic Christmas carol ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ written in Philadelphia over 150 years ago

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Iconic Christmas carol ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ written in Philadelphia over 150 years ago

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PHILADELPHIA — You’ve probably heard more than a few Christmas carols. But did you know that one of the most beloved and iconic songs was written in Philadelphia over 150 years ago?

The Christmas carol “O Little Town of Bethlehem” was written in 1868 by Phillips Brooks.

Brooks was the second rector of the Church of the Holy Trinity on Rittenhouse Square.

“He was in Bethlehem on Christmas Eve in 1865. He went to the service where they were singing Christmas carols at the site where Jesus was born and he was inspired to write this carol,” said Rachel Wenner Gardner, rector of the Church of the Holy Trinity.

Brooks wrote the song’s text and asked then-organist Lewis Redner to write the music.

“It’s quite simple in its compositional technique. It was composed with children in mind, so it’s quite singable from that perspective. It’s certainly reminiscent of the Victorian era of beauty, but not excess. “said Donald Meineke, director of music at Holy Trinity Church.

And over the past 150 years, many popular music artists have covered the beloved Christmas classic, including Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald and Elvis Presley.

“I think this particular anthem really represents all of humanity and all of God brought together in this piece of music,” Wenner Gardner said.



Iconic Christmas carol ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ written in Philadelphia over 150 years ago

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