Sunday, December 24: O Holy Night
O Holy Night, one of the most beloved Christmas hymns, was written in 1847, by Placide Cappeau, at the request of a parish Priest, to commemorate the completion of the church organ renovation. Cappeau was a one-handed French poet/wine merchant, who was said to have been an Atheist. His poem, based upon the Gospel of Luke, was set to music by composer, Aldolphe Charles Adam, a Jew. Both of these men were commoners with no real connection to God or the church, but somehow they turned the Gospel into a beautiful work of art, that spread around the world.
This leads us to another time, over two thousand years ago, when God used two other commoners — Mary and Joseph — to bring about another masterpiece — the birth of Jesus — the Most Holy of Nights! Throughout the generations, and even today, God still uses common people and does miraculous works through them.
Just as the miraculous birth of Jesus was announced long ago and spread around the world, the story of his birth through the song O Holy Night also spread, as this hymn was later translated into English, by John Dwight Sullivan, and became part of the first radio broadcast and was one of the first songs ever to be broadcast over the radio, reaching millions around the globe. Its message continues to reach around the world today and touches many hearts.
As far back as I can remember, this beautiful piece of music and its words have echoed through the Sanctuary, as part of our Christmas Eve tradition, here at St. Paul. To me, it’s one of the most meaningful parts of the service, as we sit in the darkness, lit only by the light of the flickering candle flames. In those few moments of peace and quiet, away from the hustle and bustle of the season, I can truly contemplate the words which bring the Christmas story and the reason behind it, to life. As the chorus swells, it gives me chills to think of the wonder and beauty of that most holy of nights, when God sent us the only gift we will ever need; his Son, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords – Our Savior! It moves me to tears of joy every time!
It’s a song that transcends time and space and is still relevant today in our weary world. As we listen to the words, let us hear and feel that thrill of hope, once again. Let us humble ourselves, fall on our knees and rejoice as we await the dawn of that new and glorious morn, when our Lord returns and our souls will truly know and feel their worth!
O holy night, The stars are brightly shining;
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth!
Long lay the world In sin and error pining,
Till He appeared And the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night divine, O night, O 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 came the wise men from Orient land.
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger,
In all our trials born to be our Friend!
He knows our need, to our weakness no stranger;
Behold your King! Before the lowly bend!
Behold your King! your King! Before Him bend.
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!
Christ is the Lord, oh praise His name forever,
His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim
His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim.