Sunday, December 27, 2015

An Anthem Exultingly Swells (Day Three)

Above all the roar of the cities,
And over the hills and the dells,
With a message of peace to the nations,
Ring the beautiful Bethlehem bells,
Bringing joy to the souls that are sighing
In places where poverty dwells—
There is life, there is life for the dying
In the beautiful Bethlehem bells.

Beautiful Bethlehem bells;
Beautiful bells, beautiful bells,
Beautiful Bethlehem bells.

Far off in a land that is lovely,
For the tender, sweet story it tells,
In the light of a glorious morning,
Rang the beautiful Bethlehem bells;
And still in the hearts of creation
An anthem exultingly swells
At that memory sweet of the ringing
Of the beautiful Bethlehem bells.

They rang o’er the hills and the valleys,
They summoned the glad world that day,
From the regions of night to the manger,
Where the beautiful Child Jesus lay;
And forever and ever and ever
A wonderful melody dwells
In the tender, sweet ringing and singing
Of the beautiful Bethlehem bells.

Frank L. Stanton, 1918
Tune: BEAUTIFUL BELLS (Irregular with refrain)
Charles E. Pollock, 1918

This Christmas gospel song by Stanton and Pollock was first published in Songs of Grace and Glory (1918) and is perhaps a bit too much of its time to be successfully sung today. Firmly in the sentimentalist vein of Christmas songs, it suggests the idealized Bethlehem rather than the grim reality of the city today.  However, we can certainly imagine our grandparents and great-grandparents singing songs like this in their churches a century ago.

Six Years Ago: Shepherds rejoice! lift up your eyes

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