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A Mary T. Hoffman Commentary from


"Joyful Curmudgeon" An oxymoron?
No! I see all the beauty of God's creation and I'm joyful.  At the same time, I see all the suffering and corruption going on in the world, and feel called to help expose and end it so that we may have true peace and compassion.


Merry Christmas! – 25 December 2008
By Mary T. Hoffman

Phillips Brooks, the author of the Christmas carol “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” was the rector of Trinity Church, Boston, for twenty-two years. During the last two years of his life he was bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Massachusetts. He became one of the best-known Americans of his time because of his understanding of people and of other religious traditions.

Born in Boston, 13 December 1835, Brooks was a student at Harvard College while James Russell Lowell, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Louis Agassiz, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow were teaching there. Brooks was graduated with honors in 1855, and then studied for the ministry at the Alexandria (Virginia) Protestant Episcopal seminary. His works include Yale Lectures on Preaching, The Influence of Jesus, and The Light of the World. Phillips Brooks died 23 January 1893, and a statue of him stands in Trinity Church, Boston.

Phillips Brooks

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 tonight.
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 today.
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord, Immanuel.
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