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If I Had Been in Bethlehem

About the Song

This song was written for my oldest daughter, Jennifer. It occurred to me, one evening shortly before Christmas, that if we had lived anywhere near Bethlehem, this intrepid young 7-year-old really would have followed the shepherds or the wise men, and she probably wouldn’t have asked permission, or told me where she was going.

The version marked SATB 2 has the easier choir parts of the two choral arrangements, but a more difficult accompaniment.

Church Music Contest: Children’s Song Division – 1st place 1988
Appeared in The Friend magazine, December 1989

Spotify, Soundcloud (inc. free downloads)

Click the Soundcloud download icon to download the free track for personal use.

Recording featuring vocals by Allyse Smith Taylor:

Flute by Mara Riley

Accompaniment track:

Flute by Mara Riley
Apple Music, Amazon

These files may be copied/shared in any quantity in any physical format unless otherwise noted. They may not be re-sold or offered for download.


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If I had been in Bethlehem the night of Jesus’ birth
And heard afar the angels’ joyful song of peace on earth
If I had seen the shepherds come to seek the baby fair
I think I would have followed them, and knelt beside them there

If I had lived in eastern lands and watched with eager eyes
If I had seen His star appear and blaze among the skies
If I had seen the wise men go to seek the newborn King
I think I would have followed them, my finest gifts to bring

I did not live in Bethlehem that Christmas night of old
Or travel with the wise men there, to bring Him gifts of gold
But I can give a greater gift than any earthly gem
For all my heart and all my love will be my gift to Him.

If you have questions, please check the FAQ
If you don't find your answer there, feel free to post your question here. 🙂


  1. Ann

    We have some young children who want to sing this in a program.
    Is there a downloadable accompaniment of the shorter 2.30 minutes simplified version? The available accompaniment is the 4 minute version.

  2. Sandi Clayton-Burgess

    Love this as duet SA

  3. Linda M Fernandez

    I love your music so much. It touches me deeply and I am grateful for your kindness to share with all of us. Thank you.


    my daughter wants to learn to play this song in piano, this is too complicated for her, how can she get an easier version just for piano

  5. Ang

    Do you happen to have the sound track of the piano only? My son is trying to learn how to play this and it gets a little hard with the violin in there.

  6. Barb

    I found your song while looking for a different one…I love it…

    The song I was looking for is “I’d like to go to Bethlehem”(to see the King)
    Do you by chance know the words???

  7. Janae

    I have looked and looked and cannot find an mp3 download of “If I Had been in Bethlehem.” Does anyone know where I can purchase/download an mp3 of this song?

  8. Lyn Ballinger

    I also love this song, he music and lyrics. I taught this to our Primary and they sang it in Sacrament last year for Christmas. Everyone of the children loved it and the congregation also loved to hear them sing it. Yes, I agree, Thank you so much Sally DeFord for your beautiful music………..Lyn Ballinger, San Antonio, Tx. 3rd ward. PS my friend Sister Amy Lauritzen in our ward knew you in college………

  9. Heidi

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful music! We may try this for a few of our girls at church to learn!

  10. Lyn Ballinger

    This song is so beautiful. I am new at teaching Primary and would like to teach the children this song for the Christmas program and so they can see how beautiful it is. A friend told me about your song and how much she enjoyed teaching this in Primary when she had this calling. I have really enjoyed learning and teaching the son If The Savior Stood Beside Me. I am a mental health therapist and have shared some of the words to your song. I am not a singer, but love music and the affect it has on us especially with building our testimonies. Thank you for sharing your talent with all the world. My husband and two sons were all gifted with singing. I can and do appreciate beautiful music. Thank you again, Lyn Ballinger


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