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Autumn at Mount Vernon (Paul McGehee)
Autumn at Mount Vernon (Paul McGehee)
O Little Town of Bethlehem (Paul McGehee)

"O Little Town of Bethlehem" by Paul McGehee. "O Little Town of Bethlehem" by Paul McGehee. A moonlit view of the ancient city of Bethlehem, birthplace of Jesus Christ, as it appeared in the 19th century. Located about 6 miles from Jerusalem in the Palestinian West Bank region, Bethlehem has through the years been the subject of religious scripture, upheaval, legend, war, separatism and unity. Above all, it is where the Christmas story began, and is a popular annual pilgrimage for many. Entering Bethlehem one can visit the tomb of Rachel, wife of Jacob and a matriarch of the original tribes of Israel. It is an ancient holy site revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims alike. At the heart of the old city is Manger Square where one can find the Church of the Nativity and the towering Mosque of Omar. The Church of the Nativity, which dates back to 565, houses The Grotto containing the cave in which the birth of Jesus of Nazareth is thought to have occurred. According to the writings of Saint Justin, "Joseph took up his quarters in a certain cave near the village; and while they were there Mary brought forth the Christ and placed Him in a manger, and here the Magi who came from Arabia found Him." The Church of the Nativity (jointly maintained by Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Armenian Apostolic authorities) is today visited by thousands from all over the world each year, especially at Christmas. On the evening of December 24th people gather in Manger Square to sing carols, leading up to the midnight service. One particular Christmas Eve in 1865, a 30 year old clergyman and writer from Boston named Phillips Brooks was among the many celebrants at Manger Square. As he related in a letter after the event: “I remember especially on Christmas Eve, when I was standing in the old church at Bethlehem, close to the spot where Jesus was born, when the whole church was ringing hour after hour with the splendid hymns of praise to God, how again and again it seemed as if I could hear voices that I knew well, telling each other of the 'Wonderful Night' of the Saviour's birth.” The memory of that visit became the song "O Little Town of Bethlehem" which he wrote a few years later. "O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie," begin the lyrics, "above thy deep and dreamless sleep, the silent stars go by." The beautiful song continues by painting a word picture of peace and faith as seen through the eyes of one in the city of Bethlehem. The song is sung to this day and has become one of the classic Christmas carols of all time. "O Little Town of Bethlehem" is faithfully reproduced as an archival-quality print from McGehee's original color pencil drawing issued in a limited edition of only 500 pieces, each hand-signed by the artist. Print image size 10 3/4" x 16"

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