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) Canada(Newf)
REFERENCES (11 citations):
OShaughnessy-Lincolnshire 4, "Christ Was Born in Bethlehem" (1 text, 1 tune)
Cox-Newfoundland, p. 96, "Mary Lies Weeping" (1 fragment, 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
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)
Christ Was Born in Bethlea
Jesus Borned in Bethlea
Jesus Born in Galilee
NOTES [159 words]: 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 4.3
File: MA189

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List

Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2018 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.