O west bank town of Bethlehem

Graffiti (by Banksy) on the wall surrounding Bethlehem
Graffiti (by Banksy) on the wall surrounding Bethlehem

An h/t to Phil Groom for bringing Martin Leckebusch’s modern take on the Christmas Carol, O Little Town of Bethlehem to my attention. What I love about this is that it starts as many a “modern Christmas retelling” does: by almost pointing out how the message of Christmas (hope, love and peace etc.) is almost conspicuous by its absence in the town of Christ’s birth.

And yet it still manages to usher in the hope that Christ coming would have all those centuries ago. The world hasn’t changed that much after all. The message of Christmas (the real one without the tinsel) is still valid and still needed.

O West Bank town of Bethlehem,
how still thy victims lie;
the grieving weep, deprived of sleep;
militiamen roam by;
for through thy dark streets rageth
the never-ending fight:
such hopes and fears, such bitter tears
are met in thee tonight.

O morning news, O papers,
report the dreadful dearth
of saints who sing to praise the King,
of peace across the earth;
where Christ was born of Mary
‘midst wondering angels’ love,
in anguish deep, sad mortals keep
few thoughts of things above.

How violently, how violently
the hope of peace is riven;
can God imparts to these torn hearts
the blessings of his heaven?
Who now recalls his coming
to this dark world of sin?
Where harsh words still promote ill-will,
can Christ now enter in?

O Child once born in Bethlehem,
draw near again, we pray;
you died to win this world from sin –
yet sin persists today.
May we, like Christmas angels,
annouce Immanuel,
till all are given a glimpse of heaven
and not a taste of hell.

Martin Leckebusch
Copyright © 2010 Kevin Mayhew Ltd

Reproduced under the terms of Kevin Mayhew’s fair use copyright policy.

1 comment on O west bank town of Bethlehem

  1. I was in Bethlehem about 17 years ago. While roadblocks were a pain travelling between Bethlehem and Jerusalem, and soldiers on the street with guns is a sight I prefer to avoid, actually I found Bethlehem quite a nice place to be. Walking the streets both in the centre and outside, felt safe enough. The people were friendly. There was no trouble that I saw.

    If things have deteriorated now to the point where the above describes the town today, that makes me very sad indeed.

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