The First Carol of Christmas

     Welcome, good people, to the glorious advent season. Normally I save songs such as the one I intend to reintroduce for further along in the month. Usually on Christmas or Christmas Eve, however, I thought this year I'd jostle it up.
  It all started this morning as I was driving to a lesson. I turned on the classical station and lo and behold what was playing but the Cambridge choir; it was the Cambridge Choir no less, conducted by John Rutter himself, singing his own arrangement of O Holy Night. I must say it was so beautiful that a couple times I almost forgot that I was driving!

  The interesting thing about O Holy Night is that it was actually commissioned by a French Catholic Bishop in 1847 for a Christmas mass. The poet in Question, Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure was no church man, his life was wrapped up in the selling of wines, yet still, an excellent poet. Adolph Charles Adams, the author of the tune was not one we would expect to fine in the line-up of Christmas Carol writers. As a Jewish man, the beautiful poem named "Cantique de Noel" embodied a day he didn't celebrate and yet, as a friend of Cappeau, he went to work to compose the tune we have today. The song immediately gained popularity all over France, but when Cappeau walked away from the church and became a socialist, along with it being discovered that Adams was a Jew, the French church banned it saying that "it was unfit for musical services because of its lack of musical taste and "total absence of the spirit of religion.""
     I found it amazing how great was the power of association, and also it seems a warning for us...two sinners came together an wrote a beautiful song, and when the church found out they were sinners it was out with the song as well. What a lesson for all of us this Christmas season. True, sometimes the association can taint the thing itself but one must be discerning. In this case, the song "O Holy Night" remains pure and true though those who penned it were not.
    It was a Holy Night when Christ was born, what Christ did was wonderful...coming down to a world which had long lain in sin, and in error pining.

   This morning as I listened to the beautiful strains of this song, I noticed again how rich the words were and determined that this should be the song to start off this series this year.

  Let us proclaim His power and His glory no matter what betide us this season. Remember He is our Lord and to our weakness's He is no stranger.

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 Spirit 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, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
O'er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
Now come the wisemen from out of the Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friends.
He knows our need, 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 he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

Let us behold our King and before Him alone lowly bend this Christmastide.

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Lisa Hellwig said...

Beautiful! Thank you for posting this one first. It sets the tone, and those words ringing in my heart keep me focused amid the frenzy.