My favorite Christmas song has always been “O Holy Night”. Originally written in 1843, in French, as a Christmas poem and set to music shortly thereafter, with the English lyrics later penned by John Sullivan Dwight in 1855*, it is arguably one of the most beautifully written and powerfully composed Christmas hymns of all time. But it’s not just the beauty of the lyrics or the power of the music that draws me in. It’s the truth of the words . . . the truth that has stood for thousands of years . . . the truth that predates this beautiful song and points us back to the truth of gospel . . . that causes my love of this song to run so deep.
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,
‘Til 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 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, 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.*
“Long lay the world in sin and error pining, ‘Til He appear’d and the soul felt its worth. A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices” . . . two thousand years ago . . . our world was weary . . . and today . . . our world is weary. Weary with fighting . . . weary with brokenness . . . weary with searching and seeking to fill a void that never seems to be filled . . .
“He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger” . . .
“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” . . .
“Fall on your knees” . . .
“Christ is the Lord” . . .
In our weariness, we have rest.
In our weakness and sin, we have a Savior that forgives.
Amidst all the discord, animosity, hatred, and division, He came to teach us what unconditional love, truth, and peace are. He came to truly set us free.
That night changed everything. That night a baby was born who would forever alter the course of history. That night the angels appeared and the shepherds worshipped. That night our Savior left heaven, to become a baby, that would both live and die to save us from our wretchedness.
“Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
‘Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!'”
In the midst of all the chaos this Christmas . . . with all the lights and the food, the family and the gifts . . . in the contradiction of both heartbreak and the joy that so many carry side by side through each holiday season . . . may we take just a moment to stop, to reflect, to remember the why and find the peace brought from our glorious Savior on that night so long ago.
O Night Divine . . .
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