1 In the little village of Bethlehem,
There lay a Child one day,
And the sky was bright with a holy light
O'er the place where Jesus lay.
Alleluia! O how the angels sang.
Alleluia! How it rang!
And the sky was bright with a holy light,
'Twas the birthday of a King.
2 'Twas a humble birth-place, but O how much
God gave to us that day,
From the manger bed what a path has led,
What a perfect, holy way. [Refrain]
Baptist Hymnal, 1991
|First Line:||In the little village of Bethlehem|
|Title:||The Birthday of a King|
|Author:||William Harold Neidlinger|
|Meter:||188.8.131.52 D with refrain|
|Refrain First Line:||Alleluia, O how the angels sang|
|Liturgical Use:||Scripture Songs|
William Harold Neidlinger wrote this text circa 1890. It was published in a pamphlet by G. Schirmer. There are two stanzas and a refrain. In each stanza is a contrast between the insignificance of Bethlehem and the importance of the Christ child who was born there. The refrain is a burst of joy over the spectacular picture of a host of angels – a fitting welcome for a King.
The tune, NEIDLINGER, was written with the text, and appeared with it in the Schirmer pamphlet, where it was published for baritone and piano. The tune is designed for solo performance rather than congregational singing, with a range of a twelfth, and frequent melodic leaps.
This song is obviously best suited to Christmas. Because of the soloistic nature of the tune, it is probably best to avoid using it for congregational singing. A choral arrangement would be a better choice, such as “The Birthday of a King,” with a soloist on the second stanza. The handbell setting in “Let Our Carols Fill the Sky!” closely follows the arrangement in the original publication of this song, including the melodic motifs in the introduction.
Tiffany Shomsky, Hymnary.org