It’s been over two thousand years since the birth of Jesus Christ, yet the song “Long Time Ago in Bethlehem” continues to be one of the most beloved Christmas carols of all time. I have always been captivated by the powerful lyrics of this song, which tell the story of the Nativity in a simple yet beautiful way. Growing up, I remember singing this song alongside my family and friends during the holidays, both in church and at home. It’s a special song that has been passed down through generations, and for many, it is a reminder of the true meaning of Christmas. In this article, I will explore the history and meaning behind the lyrics of “Long Time Ago in Bethlehem.”
Story of Long Time Ago in Bethlehem
“Long Time Ago in Bethlehem” is an iconic Christmas carol written in the 18th century by William Sandys. It is said to be one of the oldest Christmas songs from the English-speaking tradition. The song tells the story of the Nativity of Jesus Christ with simple language that still resonates today.
The song is based on the biblical account from the Gospel of Luke, which recounts the story of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem and the birth of Jesus. The song follows the journey of Mary and Joseph as they search for a place to stay. It also mentions the visit from the three wise men who brought gifts for the baby Jesus.
The song has a universal message and has been recorded by a wide variety of artists over the years. Some of the world’s most beloved singers, such as Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley, have covered the carol. Additionally, the song is a staple of Christmas pageants, plays, and concerts.
In recent years, “Long Time Ago in Bethlehem” has been covered in popular films such as The Polar Express and Elf. The song has even been featured as a cell phone ringtone. With its timeless message, this carol continues to remain a beloved holiday classic.
In recognition of its iconic status, “Long Time Ago in Bethlehem” is included in the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress in the US. It is also considered a Christmas standard, having been covered in over 200 versions. The song is sure to keep being shared
Verse 1: That Glorious Night
Long time ago in Bethlehem, a baby was born on that glorious night. This baby was born to poor parents, Mary and Joseph, on a silent and holy night. This baby is known as Jesus Christ, the son of God, who was destined to become the King of the Jews and the savior of humanity. According to the gospel of Matthew, wise men from the east were guided by a star to the place where the baby was born and brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. It’s believed that this night was so spiritually and historically significant because of the promises of the Old Testament coming to fruition. The Gospels of the New Testament state that Jesus’ birth was celebrated by angels and shepherds, and his life would be marked by miracles, healings, and an offer of salvation to all. The song, “Long Time Ago in Bethlehem” is a popular carol that commemorates this event and pays tribute to the little baby who would become the Lord.
Verse 2: Jesus was Born
Long time ago in Bethlehem, the birth of Jesus Christ was foretold. This event was prophesied by the prophet Isaiah, which was written in the book of Matthew. According to the Gospels, Jesus was born in a manger in Bethlehem, with his earthly parents Mary and Joseph. It is estimated that Jesus was born around 7-2 BC, and it is said that an angel appeared to the shepherds in the fields and proclaimed the birth of the baby. Throughout history, the story of the birth of Jesus Christ has been celebrated with the popular Christmas carol Long Time Ago in Bethlehem, which has been recorded by more than 400 artists. It is a reminder of the divine birth of Jesus and is an important part of many Christmas celebrations, symbolizing hope and joy.
Verse 3: Joyful News
Long time ago in Bethlehem, there was a manger where the baby Jesus lay. The third verse of the traditional Christmas carol, Long Time Ago in Bethlehem, celebrates the joyous news of the birth of Jesus and calls upon the heavens to rejoice. According to a survey conducted by the National Council of Churches, Long Time Ago in Bethlehem is one of the most popular Christmas carols in the United States. Its stirring words have been a source of comfort and inspiration to millions of people over the centuries.
The lyrics of the song’s third verse, which focus on the joyous news of the Savior’s birth, express the wonder and awe of the event. The words remind the listener of the profound significance of the Incarnation and the promise of salvation that it brings. The words “Joyful, all ye nations, rise / Join the triumph of the skies” are particularly meaningful, expressing a universal call to join in rejoicing over the Saviour’s birth.
The music of the Christmas carol further enhances the joyful message of the lyrics. Composed in the early 19th century by German musician Johann Schulz, the tune of the carol is of a folk style popular at the time. The lilting, joyful melody perfectly captures the sense of celebration and joy that accompanies the lyrics.
This classic Christmas carol continues to be popular today, providing an inspiring reminder of the joy and hope that comes with the birth of Jesus Christ. It’s a reminder that we can all join in the
Verse 4: Heaven Was Singing
In the fourth verse of Long Time Ago in Bethlehem, the melody takes a more spiritual turn as the lyrics focus on the moment of Jesus’ birth. The lyrics express the melody of the angels joyfully singing for the birth of the Savior as Heaven rejoices. This song has been a favorite of many for many decades. It is one of the most popular carols of the Christmas season, as reported by The United States Department of Culture, and continues to be a beloved Christmas tradition. The lyrics of the fourth verse express the joy and adoration felt by Heaven and the angels: “Heaven was singing, alleluia, angels from the realms of glory, winging its way to earth to tell the joyful story.” This verse captures the beauty of the Christmas story and the awe and wonder of Jesus’ birth. It serves as a reminder of the joy that Jesus’ birth brought to the world and of the spiritual peace that accompanies Christmastime.
Verse 5: Angels Proclaimed
Long time ago in Bethlehem, the angels proclaimed the birth of Jesus Christ. According to the Bible, these angels visited the shepherds with the “good tidings of great joy” (Luke 2:10). This momentous event was so extraordinary that the angels had to sing to express this joy and to share the news of the Saviour’s birth. The Christmas carol “Long Time Ago in Bethlehem” is a reflection of this heavenly proclamation. The song’s fifth verse, “Angels proclaimed Him a King” is a reminder that Jesus was not only seen as the Saviour of mankind, but also as a King who will bring peace and justice to the world. Every year, millions of people around the world celebrate the birth of Jesus and commemorate this story with carols such as “Long Time Ago in Bethlehem”. According to the Pew Research Center, more than 83% of the US population identify as Christians, making it the largest religious group in the country. With a shared faith, millions join in singing the carol’s fifth verse as a reminder of Jesus’s kingship and the hope of peace and justice.
Verse 6: Wise Men Followed Star
Biblical scholars believe that the star of Bethlehem, which the Wise Men followed to Jesus, was actually an astronomical event. This event is commonly referred to as a “Christmas Star” or a “Star of Bethlehem”. According to astronomers, the most likely explanation is a rare conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn that occurred in the year 7 BC. This celestial event was so rare that it had not happened for centuries before and has not happened since.
The Wise Men were part of a group of magi, which were ancient Persian astrologers who were able to accurately predict celestial events. This explains why the magi followed the star to Bethlehem. The “long time ago in Bethlehem” verse from the popular Christmas carol, “We Three Kings”, captures the journey of the magi to find the baby Jesus.
The Christmas Star has become an important symbol in popular culture, with its presence in Christmas decorations, pop culture references, and even movies. For example, the Disney animated film Frozen features a character, Olaf, who is obsessed with the Christmas Star. The character even sings a song about it.
The Bible does not provide an exact date for the coming of the magi, however, the “long time ago in Bethlehem” verse of the popular Christmas carol serves as a reminder of the mysterious journey of the Wise Men to find the baby Jesus. As a result, the star of Bethlehem has become a significant symbol of the Christmas season.
“Long Time Ago in Bethlehem” is a timeless Christmas classic that has been around for generations. Its simple yet meaningful lyrics are a reminder of the true spirit of the season – hope, joy, and peace. Every time I hear this carol, I am reminded to keep my focus on the reason for the season, and to keep my faith and trust in God. I hope that this song will continue to bring hope and joy to all who listen for years to come. May the spirit of Christmas live in our hearts, not just during the holiday season, but all year long.