O Little Town Of Bethlehem chords

by Sarah McLachlan
  • Lyrics: Phillip Brooks
  • Featured Artist: Sarah McLachlan
  • Album: Wintersong
  • Music: Key of C Major in 4/4 time at ~ 92 bpm (♩)
  • Chords: C, F, G, G7, A7, Am, C/A, Csus2, Dm
Chart Legend
Numbered Circles: Fingers used to play chords   O: Optional Note
Barre Line: One finger holds down multiple strings   R: Root Note
Unmarked strings: Play open   X: Don't play string    B: Bass Note
C Major C7 Am F Major F Major F Major G Major G7 Dm C/A Csus2
C Major C7 Am F Major F Major F Major G Major G7 Dm C/A Csus2

O Little Town Of Bethlehem

Song Key is highlighted - Transpose to any other key

                C      F     G     C    Dm     G  
Intro: 4/4 ||       |     -     |     |     -     ||

     C               F                  C        G7        C  F  C
1. O lit-tle town of Beth-le-hem    How still we see thee |lie      / |
     C        A7       Dm                      C       G7         C  F  C
   A-bove the deep and dream-less sleep    The si-lent stars go | by      / |
       Am                  E7              Am             E7
   Yet in the dark streets shin-eth    The ev-er-last-ing Light
       C         Dm       F                    C       G7       C    F  C
   The hopes the fears of all the years     Are met in thee to-|night      / |

                C      F     G     C    Dm     G  
Instr: 4/4 ||       |     -     |     |     -     ||

       C              F                 C         G7        C     F  C 
2. How sil-ent-ly how sil-ent-ly    The wond-rous gift is | giv-en      / |
      C      A7       Dm                   C         G7       C      F  C 
   So God im-parts to hu-man hearts    The bles-sing of His | Heav-en      / |
      Am               E7             Am               E7    
   No ear may hear His com-ing    But in this world of sin
         C          Dm      F                      C           G7        C  F  C
   Where meek souls will re-ceive Him still    The dear Christ en-ters | in       / |

                C      F     G     C    Dm     G  
Instr: 4/4 ||       |     -     |     |     -     ||

     C              F                  C       G7      C   F  C 
3. O Hol-y Child of Beth-le-hem    Des-cend to us we | pray      / |
        C       A7       Dm              C       G7      C  F  C
   Cast out our sins and en-ter in    Be born to us to-| day      / |
      Am                  E7             Am                  E7
   We hear the Christ-mas an-gels    The great glad tid-ings tell
     C       Dm   F                   C       G7     C  F  C
   O come to us a-bide with us    Our Lord Em-man-u-|el       / |   
     C       C/A  F                   C       G7     C  F  Csus2  C
   O come to us a-bide with us    Our Lord Em-man-u-|el             |


  • Level Of Ease: Easy to Moderate depending how you play it.
  • Song Key: C Major - no sharps or flats
  • Tempo: approx 92 bpm (♩)... If you are using a metronome or click track, the beat sounds on every quarter-note OR crotchet.

Sarah plays the song beautifully in a fingerpicking style that utilizes a lot of interesting chord shapes and extra notes which compliment this excellent presentation. I have simplified the song as much as possible so that everyone can play along. There are a couple of things you might like to try.

When she plays the last bar of lines 1, 2 and 4 of each verse | C F C / | she slides up to the F from the C chord by playing the F chord the same shape as an open E chord except up 1 fret. This is fine as long as you don't play strings 1,2 and 6... see chart. Play whichever feels the most comfortable. This lends itself to finger-picking as opposed to strumming, as you are more likely to hit the 'x' marked strings when strumming this particular chord.

At the end of the song, she plays a Csus2 (x3001x) on the 3rd beat of the last bar and hammers (h) finger 2 onto the 4th string 2nd fret to finish on the C chord (x32010) on the 4th beat of the bar. You can just play a C chord if you prefer, but it does add a nice touch... just remember to play the Csus2 on the 3rd beat and hammer on the 4th beat to finish... don't strum on the 4th beat as the hammer-on takes the place of a strum or pick. If you listen carefully, you will hear this.

h (hammer-on): bring your finger down sharply on the string to make it sound.

The C/A chord is simply a C chord leading with an A bass note... x02010. We give up the leading C bass note and replace it with an A (open 5th string). We still have all the notes in the C chord with the C note played 1 octave higher on the 2nd string - first fret.

The repeat sign or simile mark / means you repeat the previous chord or note in the bar, therefore:

   C  F  C
||         / || 

Play C for 1 beat, 
F for 1 beat and 
C for 2 beats.

When you see a written chord, e.g., (x32010), each space or segment (6 in total), represents each guitar string starting with the lowest string EADGBe. Each number represents the fret played and the letter 'x' means you don't play that string, therefore in this example of an open C chord, (x32010)

  • E String: x - don't play string (bottom E - fattest string)
  • A String: 3rd fret
  • D String: 2nd fret
  • G String: play open string
  • B String: 1st fret
  • e String: play open string (top E - thinnest string)
This is a great way of writing chords quickly without having to chart them.

There are various other ways to play Csus2 (1-2-5 / C-D-G). I have chosen the easiest variation that sits well within the song. Other variations include:

  • Csus2: x30033
  • Csus2: x30013
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