Tonight’s the night

o-holy-nightI remember when my children were little, how easy it was to get them to bed and right to sleep on Christmas Eve. At that point, it was a good thing, because I still had a myriad of tasks to perform. Yet in retrospect, I wonder if in some way anticipating the arrival of Santa detracted from the true meaning of the night captured in song 165 years ago. This is when Adolphe Adam composed the Christmas carol we know as O Holy Night.

Though known as an English carol, the words originally came from the Minuit, chretiens – Midnight, Christians – penned by a French wine merchant and poet, Placide Cappeau. Tradition says that in 1847, Cappeau wrote this verse while traveling on a Parisian stagecoach. Although historians discount the location of the event, those who write understand that inspiration can come at any time you choose to depart from the daily grind and allow your thought processes to bear fruit. Cappeau, like most writers, could not quit his day job to pursue what he truly enjoyed doing. But I digress.

Later John Sullivan Dwight, a Unitarian minister, wanted to make the carol easier to sing. You will recognize his adaptation of Cappeau’s work in the more familiar hymn known today as, Cantique de Noel or O Holy Night. You might enjoy seeing how the lyrical transition took place, yet both versions capture the essence of the real meaning of Christmas, often included in our celebrations though not always the focal point.

In most cases today, our celebrations of Jesus’ birth come during Christmas Eve services rather on Christmas day. At such times, worshipers unite their hearts to recognize God’s love for a broken world – one filled with people like you and me. Jesus came that night, born as a baby to live a blameless life only to die 33 years later for the sins of all mankind. God came Himself because man could not solve resolve his brokenness on his own. How great a gift is that? It’s the perfect gift, and each of us just have to take it. Accepting His gift, we use Christmas day to model that love to family and friends.

That said, tonight’s the night so take another look at the lyrics below, and as you celebrate on this Christmas Eve, see if you don’t gain fresh insight on why Christ came. Then capture the moment of that holy night as you listen to Josh Groban sing the words of this timely tune that is as relevant today as it was on that first Christmas.

Merry Christmas to all!

O Holy Night!
The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviours 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,
Oh, hear the angels 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 came 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,
Oh, praise His name forever!
His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim!
His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim!

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