Where is the way to the dwelling of light? Job 38:19
The history of this hymn is set forth in the following letter from Dr. [Melancthon] Stryker to the Rev. Dr. [Louis] Benson of Philadelphia [Pennsylvania] in answer to an enquiry respecting it:—
The hymn was given me in 1889 in autograph by Eugene Field, whom in Chicago [Illinois] I knew well. He wrote it a little before Christmas. Probably it appeared in the Chicago News, in the ‘Sharps and Flats’ column. I know that he expanded it into the verse you name. As it is in my book it is unmodified by a word from the copy given to me. I seized it at once for a hymn. Clinton, [New York] Oct. 1905.
This original text is No. 73, in 4 stanzas of 6 lines, in Dr. Stryker’s College Hymnal, N.Y., 1897. The expanded text is,As I was going to Bethlem-town.
Julian, p. 1712
There burns a star o’er Bethlehem town,
And gloriously it beameth down
Upon a virgin mother meek,
And Him whom solemn Magi seek.
Burn on, O star! and be the light
To guide us all to Him this night!
The angels walk in Bethlehem town—
The angels come and bring a crown
To Him, our Savior and our king,
And sweetly all this night they sing.
Sing on in rapture, angel throng!
That we may learn that heavenly song!
Near Bethlehem town there blooms a tree,
And it shall stand on Calvary!
But from the shade thereof we turn
Unto the star that still shall burn,
When Christ is dead and ris’n again,
To mind us that He died for men.
There is a cry in Bethlehem town!
’Tis of the Babe that wears the crown.
It telleth us that man is free—
That He redeemeth all and me!
The night is sped—behold the morn!
Sing, O my soul, the Christ is born!