The Hopes And Fears...

A few weeks back I was sitting with a friend talking about a line out of the Christmas song "O Little Town Of Bethlehem." The line is found in the first verse of the song

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.

What a beautiful and odd lyric.

The hopes and fears of all the years Are met in thee to-night.

I have done quite a bit of research on this lyric to try to discover the original meaning that the author intended but try as I might, there is no interview with the author explaining it's meaning. This is probably due to the fact that it was written by the rector of the Church of the Holy Trinity in 1868 and was only really intended for his Sunday school Christmas service. The rector, Phillip Brooks, gave his lyrics, the week before the Sunday service, to his organist and asked him to write the music for the song. According to the organist, he had difficulty writing it and wasn't able to come up with what would be the music until the night before the service. Sheesh! Now that is pushing it, but, sometimes it is in the crunch time, when you are not triple thinking yourself that you, as a songwriter, can come up with your best ideas. In the case of the organist, I think this is also true.

Just think of that melody on that line

The hopes and fears of all the years Are met in thee to-night.

Ahhh. It is perfect.

So what does that line mean?

I have a few songs that I've written over the years that I don't like to explain the meaning to. In the beginning I never intended to hide the meaning of these songs but ended up keeping them to myself after people would come to me and excitedly describe to me what the song or songs meant to them. It reminds me of a C.S. Lewis quote I read once in his book "The Four Loves"

"In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets."

Songs are like this. Each different listener brings out a different meaning or facet or view of the song. They shed light from a different perspective and reveal something new that is wrapped in the words and melody making that revelation, through the lens of their lives, a great beauty for the rest of us to behold.

I think this lyric has been one of those with a kaleidascope of meaning as revealed by thousands of listeners and singers throughout the years. Listeners who have tucked these words right into their hearts and then breathed out it's personal meaning to them with each aching heartbeat.

So tell me, what light do you have to shine on this lyric?

What revelation do you have?

Please do us a favor and let us see this lyric through the your light and perspective so that we can know it more than we ever have before.

Comment below and tell me, what are those hopes and fears met in Jesus that night 2000 years ago?