How far is it to Bethlehem

This is a gentle Christmas hymn, which has been set in a number of choral arrangements, but can also be effective as a solo / acoustic hymn.

It was written by English, Church of England member (later Roman Catholic convert), author and amanuensis, Frances Chesterton nee Blogg (1869 - 1938), as a verse for her family's Christmas cards in 1917.

With meter tunes it is set to include:
  • STOWEY, a traditional English tune, collected by Cecil Sharp (1859-1924), composer unknown - the most commonly used tune.
  • HOW FAR IS IT - by Herbet Wiseman in With Cheerful Voice

Image from Pixabay


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Choir with orchestra and harp - professional recording:

Choir with piano-led band, on screen lyrics - professional recording:

Singer with band, professional recording:

Singer with piano:

Singer with acoustic guitar:

Boys choir with bells:


1 How far is it to Bethlehem, not very far?
Shall we find the stable room lit by a star?
Can we see the little child, is He within?
If we lift the wooden latch, may we go in?

2 May we stroke the creatures there, oxen or sheep?
May we peek like them and see Jesus asleep?
If we touch His tiny hand, will He awake?
Will He know we've come so far just for His sake?

3 O what can I give to Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I'd bring a lamb;
If I were a wise man I'd do my part;
yet what can I give to Him? Give Him my heart.

4 If we touch His tiny hand, will He awake?
Will He know we've come so far just for His sake?
Great kings have precious gifts, and we have naught;
Little smiles and little tears are all we brought.

5 For all weary children Mary must weep;
Here, on His bed of straw, sleep, children, sleep.
God, in His mother's arms, babes in the byre,
Sleep, as they sleep who find their heart's desire.

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