"O Holy Night" has emerged as my theme song for Christmas 2022.
Several months ago I began hearing it when my granddaughter Penelope came for her piano lessons. The arrangement she will play next Monday night at the recital is a simple one, but it is clear when she plays it that she knows the song and puts her heart into it.
Last Sunday morning, our choir and orchestra at First Baptist in Decatur sang and played a magnificent arrangement of this classic. I was moved by it and clearly the congregation was as well.
(My friend Debbie Bishop took this photo from the balcony last Sunday. We weren't singing "O Holy Night" at this moment, but maybe you can get an idea of the setting. Thanks for sharing, Debbie.)
Then last Tuesday night, a group from the church drove to Nashville and heard Vince Gill sing the song on the stage of the Ryman Auditorium. For me, it was the highlight of the evening.
I hope to hear it several more times before this holiday season comes to a close.
O Holy Night!
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Savior's birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appear'd and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!
Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine
Oh night divine
Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming
Here come the wise men from Orient land
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger
In all our trials born to be our friend
Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name
Did you know this was the first Christmas song ever played live over the radio? The year was 1906.
Did you know that the words were originally written by a French poet named Placide Cappeau in 1843? It was set to music in 1847 by Adolphe Adam and translated into English by John Sullivan Dwight in 1855.
Did you know that the song has a vocal range of an octave and a fifth, which is one of the reasons it is rather difficult to sing?
This next one is very hard to imagine. Did you know that the French poet who first wrote it was not a Christian? A local priest asked him to write a poem for the commissioning of the church's new organ. Cappeau pondered Luke 2 and imagined what it would have been like to be present for the birth of Christ. I wish I could say that he was converted because of this song, but I can't find any record that he was.
Did you know that this song was popular with those who opposed slavery, especially those in the North during the Civil War? Look at that third verse again -- "Truly He taught us to love one another. His law is love and His gospel is peace. Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother, and in His name all oppression shall cease."
This version is about 4 minutes long. Enjoy! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5j_XuATgRU
Some of us would find it physically challenging to actually "fall on our knees," but I hope we will find a way to fall on our knees with our hearts this Christmas. Hear the angel voices. Christ was born on a night divine. That is what we're celebrating.
Luke 2:13-14 -- "Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.'”