Sing ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ in Spanish

Lyrics With Vocabulary and Grammar Notes for Spanish Students

Buildings in Bethlehem
Modern-day Bethlehem.

Piero M. Bianchi / Getty Images

Here is a Spanish version of the popular Christmas hymn O Little Town of Bethlehem. It was originally written in English by American clergyman Phillips Brooks.

Oh pueblecito de Belén

Oh pueblecito de Belén, cuán quieto tú estás.
Los astros en silencio dan su bella luz en paz.
Mas en tus calles brilla la luz de redención
que da a todo hombre la eterna salvación.

Nacido el Mesías ha, y en Su derredor,
los santos ángeles de Dios vigilan con amor.
Alábenlo los astros; las nuevas proclamad
que a los hombres dan la paz y buena voluntad.

Oh, cuán inmenso el amor que nuestro Dios mostró
al enviar un Salvador; Su Hijo nos mandó.
Aunque Su nacimiento pasó sin atención,
aún lo puede recibir el manso corazón.

O, santo Niño de Belén, sé nuestro Salvador
Perdona nuestras faltas hoy y danos tu amor.
Los ángeles anuncian la prometida luz.
Ven con nosotros a morar, oh Cristo, Rey Jesús.

English Translation of Spanish Lyrics

O little town of Bethlehem, how quiet your are.
The stars silently give their beautiful light peacefully.
But in your streets shines the light of redemption
Which gives everyone eternal salvation.

He was born the Messiah, and in his surroundings
God's holy angels lovingly keep watch.
Stars, praise him; proclaim the news
That they bring peace and goodwill to people.

Oh, how great is the love that our God demonstrates
by sending a Savior; He sent His Son.
Even though His birth occurred without receiving attention,
the quiet heart can still receive him.

O holy Child of Bethlehem, I know our Savior
Forgives our faults today and gives us His love.
The angels announce the promised birth.
Come dwell with us, oh Christ, King Jesus.

Translation Notes

Pueblecito is not capitalized in the title. It is the practice in Spanish to capitalize only the first word and proper nouns in composition titles.

The interjection oh is less common in Spanish than in English but usually has similar meaning. Although their sound is the same, it should not be confused with the conjunction o nor the letter O.

Pueblecito is a diminutive variation of pueblo, a word meaning "people" or, in this context, "town." A diminutive can indicate not only that something is small, but also that something is the object of affection. So pueblecito might be thought of as meaning "dear little down" or "sweet little town."

Belén is the Spanish name for Bethlehem. It isn't unusual for names of cities, particularly those well-known centuries ago, to have different names in different languages. Interestingly, in Spanish the word belén (not capitalized) has come to refer to a nativity scene or a crib. It also has a colloquial use referring to confusion or a confusing problem.

Note how in the translation many prepositional phrases have been translated as English adverbs. For example, en silencio becomes "silently" and con amor becomes "lovingly." Although most such phrases can be translated word for word to English, it often sounds more natural to use adverbs in English.

Astros can refer to stars or other celestial bodies. Estrella is a more common word for star.

"Beautiful light" could be rendered as either bella luz or luz bella. With the adjective (bella) before the noun (luz), the phrase is given a more emotional quality than it might have otherwise, although the difference between the two isn't readily translatable to English.

Mas is a somewhat old-fashioned word meaning "but." More common today is pero. It shouldn't not be confused with más, which usually means "more."

Although hombre normally refers to an adult human male, it can also refer to humanity in general, especially in literary use. In this way, it is much like the English "man."

Use of cuán instead of qué to mean "how" is infrequent in everyday speech and is limited mostly to poetic use.

Manso isn't a particularly common word. It is often used to refer to docility in animals.

Prometida luz is translated here as "promised birth." Out of context, the phrase normally would be translated as "promised light." But the phrase dar a luz (literally, to give to light) means to give birth, and prometida luz here has two meanings, one of the being a poetic allusion to that meaning.

Parts of this song use an unusual word order to maintain the correct rhythm for the music. Most notably, "Nacido el Mesías ha" (the equivalent of something like "born the Messiah has been") would typically be written as "Ha nacido el Mesías." It is extremely unusual to separate ha and other forms of haber from a past participle when forming the perfect tense.

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Erichsen, Gerald. "Sing ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ in Spanish." ThoughtCo, Aug. 28, 2020, Erichsen, Gerald. (2020, August 28). Sing ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ in Spanish. Retrieved from Erichsen, Gerald. "Sing ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ in Spanish." ThoughtCo. (accessed April 1, 2023).