Christ Was Born in Bethlehem

DESCRIPTION: "Christ was born in Bethlehem (x3) and in a manger lay." In stanzas of eight lines (but only two distinct), the song lights on Jesus' birth, his ministry, his betrayal, death, the empty tomb, and Jesus's resurrection
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1906 (OShaughnessy-Lincolnshire)
KEYWORDS: Jesus Bible Christmas
FOUND IN: Britain(England(Lond)) Australia US(Ap,SE)
REFERENCES (10 citations):
OShaughnessy-Lincolnshire 4, "Christ Was Born in Bethlehem" (1 text, 1 tune)
BrownIII 537, "Jesus Born in Bethlehem" (1 text)
BrownSchinhanV 537, "Jesus Born in Bethlehem" (1 tune plus a text excerpt)
Gainer, p. 191, "Christ Was Born in Bethlehem" (1 text, 1 tune)
SharpAp 210, "Christ was Born in Bethlehem" (1 text, 1 tune)
Ritchie-Southern, p. 33, "Down Came an Angel" (1 text, 1 tune)
Wells, pp. 189-190, "Edna's Song" (1 text, 1 tune)
Meredith/Anderson, pp. 189-190, "Christ Was Born in Bethlehem" (1 text, 1 tune)
Chase, pp. 166-168, "Jesus Walked in Galilee" (1 text plus a fragment, 2 tunes)
ADDITIONAL: Jon Raven, _The Urban and Industrial Songs of the Black Country and Birmingham_, Broadside, 1977, pp. 22-23, "The Gornal Nailmakers' Carol" (1 text, 1 tune)

Roud #1122
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "We Won't Go Home Until Morning" (tune) and references there
cf. "Can't Cross Jordan" (floating lyrics)
cf. "He Arose from the Dead" (lyrics)
ALTERNATE TITLES:
Christ Was Born in Bethlea
Jesus Borned in Bethlea
Jesus Born in Galilee
NOTES: The Wells version of this, from Edna Felter, begins "Christ was born in Bethlehem, And Mary was his niece." This is probably just an error. But it might be a reference to various post-Biblical legends which made Mary of Bethany (and her siblings Martha and Lazarus) the children of a relative of Jesus. I've also seen the brothers James and John sons of Zebedee called the children of Mary the sister of Jesus (based on a complicated accounting of the women said to be at the foot of the cross); perhaps this might be a distortion of that.
But, I repeat, the most likely explanation is just error.
William Reynolds, Companion to Baptist Hymnal, Broadman Press, 1976, p. 48, says that a song "Christ Was Born in Bethlehem" is sung to the tune of "Michael Row the Boat Ashore." Since I do not know if that song is this, I do not list the tune in the cross-references. The version of this song that I have heard (from Jean Ritchie) is not "Michael Row." - RBW
Last updated in version 4.2
File: MA189

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