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Music Monday – O Holy Night: Did you know?

O Holy Night

Can you pick one favorite Christmas song? 

I’m not sure if I can, but I can tell you that this is one of my most favorite. Not just my favorite either. I’ve asked around, and this wonderful song comes up more than most.

It’s stood the test of time. It was written in the year 1847 by a wine merchant and poet, Placide Cappeau after he completed the poem, Cappeau asked his friend, Adolphe Charles Adams, a Jew, to help him turn the poem into a song. Adams was of Jewish decent, and the poem’s words where something he didn’t believe, but as a gesture of his friendship, Adams wrote the lovely score that turned the simply poem into the beloved Christmas carol.  It was originally written in his native langue, French, where it was titled Cantique de Noël meaning simply, Christmas Carol.

Here is the the direct translation into English:


                      Cantique de Noël
                     (Christmas Carol)
Midnight, Christians, is the solemn hour,
When God as man descended unto us
To erase the stain of original sin
And to end the wrath of His Father.
The entire world thrills with hope
On this night that gives it a Saviour.
People, kneel down, await your deliverance.
Christmas, Christmas, here is the Redeemer,
Christmas, Christmas, here is the Redeemer!
May the ardent light of our Faith
Guide us all to the cradle of the infant,
As in ancient times a brilliant star
Guided the Oriental kings there.
The King of Kings was born in a humble manger;
O mighty ones of today, proud of your greatness,
It is to your pride that God preaches.
Bow your heads before the Redeemer!
Bow your heads before the Redeemer!
The Redeemer has broken every bond:
The Earth is free, and Heaven is open.
He sees a brother where there was only a slave,
Love unites those that iron had chained.
Who will tell Him of our gratitude,
For all of us He is born, He suffers and dies.
People, stand up! Sing of your deliverance,
Christmas, Christmas, sing of the Redeemer,
Christmas, Christmas, sing of the Redeemer!

In 1855, a Unitarian Minister and abolitionist, John Sullivan Dwight, translated  Cantique de Noël into the beloved song we know today as O Holy Night. I honestly can’t tell you which lyrics I like better, but I lean toward the original. Both have so much meaning. I’ll let you decide for yourself. 

below are the lyrics of Cantique de Noël as translated into English by John Sullivan Dwight:


                                    O Holy Night
O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviour’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 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 come the wise men from the 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 weaknesses no stranger,
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King, Before Him lowly 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! O praise His Name forever,
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
His power and glory evermore proclaim.

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