O Little Town Of Bethlehem


Jon says, “It’s a pig to learn this. I’ve re-learnt it every year for the last five or so years, and it still won’t stick. Hey ho.” Well done then for this excellent chorus rendition and another new tune for my ears. I won’t ever think of carols in the same way again. I trust you’re all keeping well by the way. It could be a walking day today or tomorrow depending on the weather.
You can buy the December digital album now from all good download stores.


28 Responses to “O Little Town Of Bethlehem”

  1. Joe Offer says:

    Is there a name for this melody? You can find three different melodies for “O Little Town of Bethlehem” at the Cyber Hymnal, http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/o/l/i/olittle.htm

    The lyrics were written by Phill­ips Brooks in 1867. Brooks made the five-mile horse­back jour­ney from Je­ru­sa­lem to Beth­le­hem to with the mid­night ser­vice on Christ­mas Eve in 1865.
    The melody I’m most familiar with is ST. LOUIS, written by Lewis Redner in 1868. Red­ner was Brooks’ or­gan­ist at Ho­ly Trin­i­ty Epis­co­pal Church in Phil­a­del­phia, Penn­syl­van­ia. Alternate melodies are Ephratah (by Uz­zi­ah C. Bur­nap, 1895) and the familiar Forest Green, ar­ranged by Ralph Vaugh­an Wil­liams in 1906.
    But what’s the name of the melody Jon uses, and what’s its history?

    -Joe Offer-

  2. muzza says:

    Somebody at base is getting very mixed up……………will we soon hear “To be a Farmer’s Boy” sung to the carol tune “Oh Little town of Bethlehem”?….I’ll say it again….”these young ‘uns….I ask yer!”

  3. Walter Olson says:

    Ian Robb’s excellent rendition of “Farmer’s Boy,” from which I know this tune, is here:


  4. SRD says:

    One song to the tune of another eh? There’s probably a radio game show in that.

    I see that ISIHAC is back tonight, is this a coincidence?

  5. Jon Boden says:

    Should have said – this is another one from Baccapella. Didn’t make it up to Keighley / Haworth for any singing this year – one blot on an otherwise perfect Christmas. Hope you all had a good one too. j

  6. Rosie says:

    This was a great idea, and it sounds lovely. A nice change and food for thought.

  7. Shelley says:

    Enjoying it so far – thanks Jon! (And looking forward to NYE.)

    I really like this tune. It’s another one which is more interesting than the one usually sung in church.

    As for the one song to the tune of another, we recently discovered “Blessed Be that Maid Mary” sung to Staines Morris which will be added to our Christmas repertoire for next year.

  8. Joel Griffiths says:

    I really liked this when we started but I have found it increasingly difficult to find a part. I have now to offer my thanks to Mike Hock. for a bass part. This opinion is mine and not part of the collective position of Baccappella.

  9. Jane Ramsden says:

    I’m not surprised this is a pig to learn. Not so much one of those no-tune tunes I can never pick up as difficult to hold your own when there are others singing a different part. I do like agree with Rosie though, about a change and food for thought. Well done Baccappella for developing this niche interest!

    Well, I’m most familiar with Forest Green as per this YouTube organ music link:


    and now I’ve had to go anorak the others! I’ve found many versions of St Louis, which is way more boring than Forest Green or Jon’s Baccapella complication. Here is one St Louis instrumental version I rather like though, by Robin Trower!


    And another unusual, more churchly version is this Walford Davies’ setting sung by Aled Jones:


    I’ve not found Ephratah yet!

  10. Jane Ramsden says:

    And Joe, if I could have heard them thru’ your link, I couldn’t, ‘cos I didn’t have the plug-in!

  11. Muzza(S.East England) says:

    Jane……..thanks for the link to “Forest Green”…THat’s the tune I grew up with.
    The fellow that plays the organ on your link is a find..check his “I vow to thee my country”…I thought he was turning all the lights out before he started playing!

  12. Jan says:

    I do like both the big harmony thing and the idea of singing a set of words to a tune normally associated with another set of words. In fact the first thing I sang in a folk club was with my brother (a former chorister) – ‘Oh my darling Clementine’ to the tune of ‘Guide me, oh thou great Jehovah’ – try it sometime!

  13. Jane Ramsden says:

    @ Muzza (S.East England): Is this Muzza Mark II as per Ted Ramsden? Fair attempt at a Doppelganger, but does not count as a shape-shift – no animal spirit in there!

    Ref ‘check his “I vow to thee my country”…I thought he was turning all the lights out before he started playing!’ If I say he was familiarising himself with his new organ, it is gonna sound all wrong, but that was the case!

  14. muzza says:

    Same old muzza Jane……….just thought it might prompt people to add their country location as they do come from all over the world it seems.
    Ref all the switches……..why didn’t he do that before he set the tape running!

  15. Peter Walsh says:

    This sounds very much like the tune we sang with our school choir in the Seventies – morning assembly was held in church once a week, most of the lads enjoying it more than the regular assembly, probably because lessons would start later that day. Is it the version Jon grew up with; I’d love to know?

  16. Diana says:

    Loved this rendition – but “Farmer’s Boy” by Jon definitely uses the same tune. Just wondered why he had so much trouble remembering it over the last years.

    Peter you have joined a most exclusive club. I think you spent too much time at your neighbours and his brew.

  17. Diana says:

    Well Reinhard I know in a previous existence I was a huntress and moon mad, but you are perfectly safe from me I love foxes – one (or a different one) often passes though our garden and has been seen sitting under one of the trees on the lawn for quite a while. I did not approach it just watched it till it went.

  18. Jon Boden says:

    Yup, the tune is indeed the Farmer’s Boy and credit goes to Baccapella for combining the tune with the lyric. Tune not a problem to remember, lyrics are a bit tricky to memorise though I find.

  19. Peter Walsh says:

    I’m really confused now! What we sang was NOT Forest Green, but was ‘very much like’ Farmer’s Boy. Drink not to blame Daina, honest!

  20. nev perry says:

    This song like all on the December album is an absolute joy to hear. other than Jon’s voice who else is singing here, is it faye? faye’s voice certainly adds a seasonal quality not only to this song but the whole album. the harmonies are very subtle and well balanced. Great stuff! A merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous new year to everyone

  21. Diana says:

    Sorry Jon never thought of the words being hard to remember, only the tune which blended perfectly with the carol I must add.

    Pewter, I believe you, thousands wouldn’t.

  22. Reynard says:

    nev perry, you are right, Fay (without the e) has the most distinctive voice to be heard here. But there are also Jess and Richard Arrowsmith, Gavin Davenport and Sam Sweeney who sang with Jon on this and about a dozen other songs this month.
    And, if you have some money left after Christmas, go and buy any album with any of them on it, they are all worth it.

  23. Jane Ramsden says:

    I still prefer Forest Green to the other versions. It sounds so right to my youthfully-indoctrinaTed ears that I am surprised when other people say they don’t know it and learnt another version in school. I suppose that’s folk at work though! I would find this tune hard to learn to the words, as I would want to stray into what I know. So I’m still admiring of the Baccapella switching-tunes-to-different-songs experimentation.

    @ Reynard: I see you have assumed your new persona! This does count as shape-shifting on account of your inner animal spirit coming out!

  24. judith Inman says:

    Tunes.. I love the Walford Davies’ tune called Christmas Carol . At our church we sang that one year and the Forest Green the next!

  25. Muzza+420days (NW Surrey-UK) says:

    Cor Blimey boys and girls….we got drenched doing our traditional morris dancing and mumming yesterday and now have another attack of Mr. Grumpy as I hear ‘Farmers Boy’ instead of ‘Forest Green’..again

  26. Diana says:

    Oh so sorry Muzza, it did stay dry here till late afternoon then the heavens opened yet again. Yes definitely “Farmer’s Boy” nowt wrong with that though.

  27. Jane (Maryland) says:

    The harmonies on this one are glorious! One of many AFSAD songs that I’ve added to my personal playlist.

    Hope you had a happy Christmas, Muzza, notwithstanding the pandemic!

  28. OldMuzza*NWSurrey UK) says:

    Jane (Maryland)Thank you for your good wishes. My usual happy day by myself
    (self-inflicted)….we wont mention that I undercooked the frozen potatoes and parsnips….al dente ….more like al concrete!….and I forgot that I had made gravy….and then the custard overflowed in the microwave….(old blokes-I ask yer!) but AFSAD cheered me up!

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