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Monday, 20 August 2012


Bethlehem was occupied by Israel in 1967 and came under control of the Palestine National Authority on December 21, 1995.

Bethlehem (see below) is a city on the west bank of the River Jordan, five miles south of Jerusalem. Its population in 2007 was 25,266.

Jesus Christ was born inauspiciously in a cave in Bethlehem thus fulfilling a prophecy in the Jewish sacred book of Micah and laid in an animal's feeding trough. King David was also born in the same town.

In 326 the Church of the Nativity was built over the grotto said to be the birthplace of Jesus.

On Christmas Eve 1865, a young minister stood on the hill overlooking Bethlehem where the shepherds had watched their flocks on the night Jesus was born. The impression of that starry night never left Phillips Brooks. Three years later he was asked to write a hymn for the children of his Philadelphia parish for their Christmas service. The words "O Little Town Of Bethlehem" were already in his mind. Brook’s church organist, Lewis Redner, set the words to music, declaring that the tune was "a gift from heaven." Brooks became an outstanding preacher and possibly the most highly esteemed American clergyman of his day. His deep earnestness, eloquence and poetic insight, made a strong impression on his listeners.

Once In Royal David's City was also written about Bethlehem.

Sources Songfacts, Hutchinson Encyclopedia © RM 2012. Helicon Publishing is division of RM.

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