“But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” (Micah 5:2)
“مرَّ المسيحُ عليه السلام بقوم من اليهود فقالوا له شرًّا. فقال لهم خيرًا ، فقيل له : إنهم يقولون شرًّا ، وتقول لهم خيرًا ؟
فقال: كلُّ واحدٍ يُنْفِقُ مما عنده .”
“Christ, upon whom be peace, passed by some Jewish people. They spoke harshly to him, and he spoke kindly to them. So it was said to him, ‘They speak harshly to you, and you speak kindly to them?’
“He said, ‘Everyone disburses from what’s within him.’”
(Shaykh Muhammad al-Ghazali, d. 1996)
I still distinctly recall how thrilling it was when I first heard and saw a performance of “Betelehemu,” a Nigerian Christmas carol. It was the BYU Men’s Chorus, conducted by Mack Wilberg, and the excitement consisted not only in the music, but in the dramatic movements of the choir.
I haven’t been able to find a video of the Men’s Chorus, but I include, below, an audio recording of their version of “Betelehemu.” I then also include a video of the carol as performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, now directed by — of all people — Mack Wilberg. I don’t think it’s quite as exciting, and the physical movements aren’t quite as dramatic, but, if you’re interested, they’ll give you the idea. Warning: The song will seem to come to a stop. But don’t quit at that point. The most fun part, in my judgment, is yet to come. Keep listening to the end.
Awa yi o ri Baba gbo jule
We are glad that we have a Father to trust.
Awa yi o ri Baba fehenti
We are glad to have a Father to rely upon.
Nibo labi Jesu,
Where was Jesus born?
nibo lagbe bii
Where was he born?
Betelehemu ilu ara,
Bethlehem the city of wonder.
nibe labi Baba o daju
That is where the Father was born for sure.
Praise, Praise, Praise be to Him
Adupe fun o, jooni,
We thank Thee, We thank Thee for this day,
Baba olo reo
Iyin, fun o Baba anu,
Praise be to Thee,
Baba toda wasi