Πέμπτη, 20 Δεκεμβρίου 2012

O Little Town of Bethlehem

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O_Little_Town_of_Bethlehem "O Little Town of Bethlehem" is a popular Christmas carol. The text was written by Phillips Brooks (1835–1893), an Episcopal priest, Rector of the Church of the Holy Trinity, Philadelphia. He was inspired by visiting the Palestinian city of Bethlehem in 1865. Three years later, he wrote the poem for his church and his organist, Lewis Redner, added the music. Redner's tune, simply titled "St. Louis", is the tune used most often for this carol in the United States.[1]
In the United Kingdom, and sometimes in the U.S. (especially in the Episcopal Church), the hymn tune "Forest Green" is used instead. "Forest Green" was adapted by Ralph Vaughan Williams from an English folk ballad called "The Ploughboy's Dream" which he had collected from a Mr. Garman of Forest Green, Surrey in 1903.[2] Adapted into a hymn tune, it was first published in the English Hymnal of 1906.
Another version by H. Walford Davies, called "Wengen" (or sometimes just "Christmas carol"), is usually performed only by choirs rather than as a congregational hymn. This is because the first two verses are for treble voices with organ accompaniment, with only the final verse as a chorale/refrain harmony. This setting includes a recitative from the Gospel of Luke at the beginning, and cuts verses 2 and 4 of the original 5-verse carol. This version is traditionally used at the service of Nine Lessons and Carols in Kings College, Cambridge.[3]
William Rhys-Herbert included a new hymn-tune and harmonization as part of his 1909 cantata, Bethany.

Photo and caption by Sheri Hogue

O little town of Bethlehem,
   How still we see thee lie!
Above thy 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 to-night.

For Christ is born of Mary,
   And, gathered all above,
While mortals sleep, the angels keep
   Their watch of wondering love.
O morning stars, together
   Proclaim the holy birth!
And praises sing to God the King,
   And peace to men on earth.
How silently, how silently,
   The wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts
   The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming,
   But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still,
   The dear Christ enters in.

O holy Child of Bethlehem!
   Descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin, and enter in,
   Be born in us to-day.
We hear the Christmas angels
   The great glad tidings tell;
Oh, come to us, abide with us,
   Our Lord Emmanuel!
Michael Finkel in National Geographic http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2007/12/bethlehem/anderson-photography

Bethlehem 2007 A.D.
The little town where Jesus was born is now one of the most contentious places on Earth.
By Michael Finkel
Photograph by Christopher Anderson

This is not how Mary and Joseph came into Bethlehem, but this is how you enter now. You wait at the wall. It's a daunting concrete barricade, three stories high, thorned with razor wire. Standing beside it, you feel as if you're at the base of a dam. Israeli soldiers armed with assault rifles examine your papers. They search your vehicle. No Israeli civilian, by military order, is allowed in. And few Bethlehem residents are permitted out—the reason the wall exists here, according to the Israeli government, is to keep terrorists away from Jerusalem. 

Bethlehem and Jerusalem are only six miles apart (ten kilometers), though in the compressed and fractious geography of the region, this places them in different realms. It can take a month for a postcard to go from one city to the other. Bethlehem is in the West Bank, on land taken by Israel during the Six Day War of 1967. It's a Palestinian city; the majority of its 35,000 residents are Muslim. In 1900, more than 90 percent of the city was Christian. Today Bethlehem is only about one-third Christian, and this proportion is steadily shrinking as Christians leave for Europe or the Americas. At least a dozen suicide bombers have come from the city and surrounding district. The truth is that Bethlehem, the "little town" venerated during Christmas, is one of the most contentious places on Earth. 

If you're cleared to enter, a sliding steel door, like that on a boxcar, grinds open. The soldiers step aside, and you drive through the temporary gap in the wall. Then the door slides back, squealing on its track, booming shut. You're in Bethlehem. 

The city, at the scrabbly hem of the Judaean desert, is built over several broad, flat-topped hills, stingy with vegetation. The older homes are made of pale yellow stone, wedged along steep, narrow streets. A couple of battered taxis ply the roads, drivers heavy on the horns. At an outdoor stall, lamb meat rotates on a spit, dripping fat. Men sit on plastic chairs and sip from small glasses of thick Arabic coffee. There's an odor of uncollected garbage. As you work your way up the hill, you can see the scope of the wall and chart its ongoing expansion—a gray snake, segmented by cylindrical guard towers, methodically constricting the city. 

Inside the wall, along Bethlehem's borders, are three Palestinian refugee camps, boxy apartments heaped atop one another in haphazard piles. Every breeze through the camps' alleys ruffles the corners of hundreds of martyrs' posters—young men, staring impassively, some gripping M-16s. Many are victims of the Israel Defense Forces. Others have blown themselves up in an Israeli mall or restaurant or bus. Arabic text on the posters extols the greatness of these deeds. 

Just outside the wall, dominating the surrounding high points and ridges, are sprawling Jewish settlements, skewered with construction cranes, feverishly growing. Late in the afternoon the sun glints off the settlement buildings and Bethlehem seems circled by fire.

Cotes de Cremisan  http://www.flickr.com/photos/tamer_shabaneh/161079497/in/photostream
Cotes de Cremisan
The Cremisan valley is situated between the Gilo neighborhood of Jerusalem and the Israeli settlement Har Gilo, near Bethlehem. The valley remains one of the last green areas in the Bethlehem district with vast stretches of agricultural lands and recreational grounds. Within the valley, are the Salesian Sisters Convent and School, the Salesian Monastery and its Cremisan Cellars, as well as 58 families that risk losing their lands.The main convent and monastery,are part of the Salesian order, founded by Don Bosco.

on the road to Cremisan from Beit Jala
View of Church of the Nativity in 1833    Maxim Vorobiev (1787–1855)

Strong in faith if not in number, Palestinian Christians attend Mass in the grotto of the Church of the Nativity, said to be the birthplace of Jesus. A century ago Christians made up 90 percent of Bethlehem’s population. Now down to a third, they continue to flee the city.

           Palestine , Bethlehem -- Matson Collection   A manger home. Room, part cave. Swaddled baby, dove-cote. Bethlehem, Palestine. 1920-1933

"Bethlehem" is a common misspelling or typo for: Beth-lehem.

1: (house of bread). 1. One of the oldest towns in Palestine, already in existence at the time of Jacobs return to the country. Its earliest name was EPHRATH or EPHRATAH. See (genesis 35:16,19; 48:7) After the conquest Bethlehem appears under its own name, BETHLEHEM-JUDAH. (Judges 17:7; 1 Samuel 17:12; Ruth 1:1,2) The book of Ruth is a page from the domestic history of Bethlehem. It was the home of Ruth, (Ruth 1:19) and of David. (1 Samuel 17:12) It was fortified by Rehoboam. (2 Chronicles 11:6) It was here that our Lord was born, (Matthew 2:1) and here that he was visited by the shepherds, (Luke 2:15-17) and the Magi. Matt 2. The modern town of Beit-lahm lies to the east of the main road from Jerusalem to Hebron, six miles from the former. It covers the east and northeast parts of the ridge of a long gray hill of Jura limestone, which stands nearly due east and west, and is about a mile in length. The hill has a deep valley on the north and another on the south. On the top lies the village in a kind of irregular triangle. The population is about 3000 souls, entirely Christians. The Church of the Nativity, built by the empress Helena A.D. 330, is the oldest Christian church in existence. It is built over the grotto where Christ is supposed to have been born. 2. A town in the portion of Zebulun, named nowhere but in (Joshua 19:15) Now known as Beit-lahm. (references)
2: Bethlehem house of bread. (1.) A city in the "hill country" of Judah. It was originally called Ephrath (Gen. 35:16, 19; 48:7; Ruth 4:11). It was also called Beth-lehem Ephratah (Micah 5:2), Beth-lehem-judah (1 Sam. 17:12), and "the city of David" (Luke 2:4). It is first noticed in Scripture as the place where Rachel died and was buried "by the wayside," directly to the north of the city (Gen. 48:7). The valley to the east was the scene of the story of Ruth the Moabitess. There are the fields in which she gleaned, and the path by which she and Naomi returned to the town. Here was David's birth-place, and here also, in after years, he was anointed as king by Samuel (1 Sam. 16:4-13); and it was from the well of Bethlehem that three of his heroes brought water for him at the risk of their lives when he was in the cave of Adullam (2 Sam. 23:13-17). But it was distinguished above every other city as the birth-place of "Him whose goings forth have been of old" (Matt. 2:6; comp. Micah 5:2). Afterwards Herod, "when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men," sent and slew "all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under" (Matt. 2:16, 18; Jer. 31:15). Bethlehem bears the modern name of Beit-Lahm, i.e., "house of flesh." It is about 5 miles south of Jerusalem, standing at an elevation of about 2,550 feet above the sea, thus 100 feet higher than Jerusalem. There is a church still existing, built by Constantine the Great (A.D. 330), called the "Church of the Nativity," over a grotto or cave called the "holy crypt," and said to be the "stable" in which Jesus was born. This is perhaps the oldest existing Christian church in the world. Close to it is another grotto, where Jerome the Latin father is said to have spent thirty years of his life in translating the Scriptures into Latin. (See VERSION.) (2.) A city of Zebulun, mentioned only in Josh. 19:15. Now Beit-Lahm, a ruined village about 6 miles west-north-west of Nazareth. Source: Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary.        http://www.websters-dictionary-online.com/definition/Bethlehem