O Night Divine

Today many genea-bloggers will go blog-caroling together by blogging about our favorite Christmas carol.  The flannel-jammied yet stylish footnoteMaven will post a round-up of all of our favorite carols.  And the best part?  You don’t have to hear us actually sing.

If I had been asked about my favorite Christmas song as I was growing up, I’m not sure what my answer what have been.  Today, I wouldn’t miss a beat before I answered – “O Holy Night”.  I like to listen to Christmas songs as I decorate or wrap presents.  Several years ago, “O Holy Night” was playing in the background (either the Mariah Carey or Celine Dion version).  I had heard the song countless times over the years, but, for the very first time, one line jumped out at me and I truly listened to it for the first time in my life.  The line that struck me was: Long lay the world in sin and error, pining, ’til He appeared and the soul felt its worth. My soul (and my eyes) flooded as I understood the meaning of those words like never before, and the beautiful, wondrous mystery of the Incarnation, the true meaning of Christmas, became clear to me.  So join with me in singing my favorite Christmas song:

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,
‘Til 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 angels’ 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 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.
He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King, Behold your King.
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! O praise His Name forever,
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
His power and glory evermore proclaim.

This song also has an interesting history behind it.  The words were written by Placide Cappeau, a French wine merchant who wrote poetry in his spare time.  In 1847, his parish priest asked him to write a Christmas poem, and Cappeau obliged by imagining the night Christ was born.  The poem, Cantique de Noel, was written in a coach as he traveled to Paris.  When Cappeau arrived, he sought out his friend, Adolphe Charles Adams, to compose music to accompany it. The result? A Christmas classic!  But not immediately – the song fell out of favor as Cappeau drew away from the Church and towards the socialist movement.  An American abolitionist, John Sullivan Dwight, was struck by the last verse of the song.  He translated the song into English.  The hymn was published during the Civil War and quickly became a favorite.  It’s certainly my favorite!

For more information on the song, its lyrics, and its history, visit the following sites:

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