Some Christmas hymns have origins that are incredible, and it seems that the ‘odds’ were stacked against their survival…yet, we still sing them today. “O Holy Night” is one of those hymns.
Written in 1847 by an agnostic poet friend of a French priest, it was first a poem. For his source material, the poet used Luke chapter 2. After it was written, he realized that it should be sung by the people (not only recited by the Priest), so he approached his friend–a Jewish composer, who went along with it even though he didn’t agree with it. The song resulted in a wildly popular French Christmas hymn. However, when Church Leaders found out who wrote and composed it, they banned it from official liturgy! The people, however, continued to sing it and it was brought to America and translated in 1813. The song struck a chord with many because of it’s anti-slavery overtones. It continued to be sung in churches, and, in 1906 it became the first music ever played over the radio waves!
The song has a way of bringing us back to ‘that night’ when Christ was born, and it captures “The thrill of hope” that Jesus birth brings.
What is the only real response to His birth–to the hope that Christ brings? The chorus tells us: “Fall on your knees, o hear the angel voices! O night divine, o night when Christ was born! O night, o Holy night, O night divine!”
The Gospel–the good news about Jesus–doesn’t stop only with our own salvation. It continues changing our lives, our relationships, and the values we have. This song makes a strong point about our need to Love One Another, as Jesus taught us to–and how that shows itself, practically.
As you listen to the song, try closing your eyes and imagining–especially at the beginning–that you were there!
Imagine the Thrill! Imagine yourself literally ‘Falling on your knees’.
Finish by ‘praising His holy name’!