Possibly the greatest Christmas song ever. Originally titled "Cantique de Noël:
It started in the small town of Roquemaure France, in late 1843. The church had recently been renovated. To celebrate the event, the parish priest persuaded poet Placide Cappeau, a native of the town, to write a Christmas poem. Soon afterwards, in that same year, Adolphe Adam composed the music. The song was premiered in Roquemaure in 1847 by the opera singer Emily Laurey.
It is so much like God to bring us such a magnificent song through strange and unusual situations. He again proves to all of us, the He can work through any person or situation to do good and to give us every opportunity to bring honor to the whole world and ultimately to God Himself.
Here is why this song, and its origin, is so incredible – a feet only God could make happen. This great song came about in this manner:
· The song was written in a small town in France with a population of barely 4,000 people
· The church for which it was written, had stained glass and an organ which had fallen apart. Thus, the church had just renovated the organ and replaced the stained glass.
· Literary Poet, and non-church member, Placide Cappeau, a self-proclaimed atheist, was asked to write a poem for the dedication of the newly renovated church glass and organ.
· The poem, written in French, became so popular in the church, that composer Adolphe Adam, a man believed to be of Jewish faith, was asked to write music to go with the poem.
· Four years later, the song had become so popular, that it was first performed publicly by French opera singer Emily Laurey
· The song was a favorite of abolitionists during the American Civil War.
In 1855 American writer John Sullivan Dwight discovered the song and was inspired by the powerful lyrics about Christ's victory over the oppression of sin and the brotherhood of men under God. He revised the lyrics slightly to read, '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'. O Holy Night was published in his magazine, Dwight's Journal of Music and quickly gained popularity with American audiences, especially in the North during the Civil War.
· The wide vocal range of the song makes it one of the more difficult Christmas songs to execute properly, especially for untrained amateurs
· In the Franco-Prussian War of 1871, a French soldier started singing “O Holy Night” on Christmas Eve. This event took place in the middle of a fight when the soldier suddenly stood up in his trench and faced the perplexed Germans unarmed and broke out into the song.
At this moment, all fighting ceased and members of both sides sang the song in unison, before returning to fighting, from their trenches, after ending the song. This was believed to be a “Christmas Miracle,” at least momentarily.
· It was the first song ever broadcast live. Canadian inventor Reginald Fessenden was an early pioneer of radio broadcasting and claimed to have made the first ever transmission of voice and music. Fessenden alleges that on December 21 1906 he broadcast a recording of Handel's Largo, followed by his own voice reading the Gospel of Luke and then a live rendition of O Holy Night on the violin.
There is some dispute over whether this was in fact the first transmission of voice and song, with some suggesting Fessenden fabricated the story to place himself at a key moment in history. Others claim the broadcast was a Christmas miracle.
· in December 2004. In Fallujah, Iraq, to convey a message of love from home, the Rev. Ron Camarda, a Catholic priest and Marine Reserve major, sang “O Holy Night” at the bedside of a dying American Marine, wounded on a military mission.
· The song, its origins, and content was widely criticized and ridiculed by many if the church in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, so much so that there was a move to ban or remove it from all churches.
· There is no sign that Adolphe Adam expected he would be remembered principally for “O Holy Night.” His 1857 memoirs do not even mention it. Yet for generations of “O Holy Night” listeners on Christmas Eve and beyond, he remains indelibly the composer of that one immortal and inspiring song.
What is it about O Holy Night that makes it such a crowd pleaser?
Some will argue the operatic score and extraordinary vocal range needed by the soloist make it a dramatically beautiful Christmas carol. But O Holy Night is more than just lovely music. The meaning behind the words turns our hearts to the reason why we celebrate Jesus' birth.
Surely the birth of an ordinary baby is wonderful – but not worth celebration more than 2000 years later? However, Jesus was no ordinary baby. His birth marks the occasion when God became a human, when God became one of us.
At Christmas we remember why Jesus came. As the song says, 'long lay the world, in sin and error pining. Till he appeared, and the soul felt its worth.' The world needed a savior, someone who would provide a way out of the mess of sin and make us right with God.
O Holy Night points to Easter where we remember Jesus' death and resurrection; when we celebrate the perfect exchange of a sinless life for our sinful ones. Such a sacrifice requires a response, just as the lyrics suggest, 'fall on your knees, O hear the Angel voices.'
I pray that as we listen to O Holy Night this Christmas our attention will be drawn away from shopping, overeating and endless images of Santa. I pray that our attention would be drawn to the one who made that holy night truly divine.
God and Our Country, a division of 46:10 Ministries is going to honor the birth of Jesus by bringing you the lyrics of this song.
We Hope You Enjoy - Merry Christmas!!!
Listen for yourself by clicking on the following link – This performance by Josh Groban, who puts his own twist on the lyrics, is certainly one of the finest:
Here are the English version traditional Lyrics:
O holy night, the stars are brightly shining, It is the night of the dear Saviour’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, Oh hear the angel voices! O night divine! O night when Christ was born. O night, O holy 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 no stranger! Behold your King! Before Him 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, then ever! ever praise we! His pow'r and glory, evermore proclaim! His pow'r and glory, evermore proclaim!