‘Tis the season, friends, whether we’re ready or not… Advent is approaching and Christmas is coming! The calendar pays no heed to pandemics and the like, even though this year it’s going to be a little different in terms of gathering and celebrating and traditions. We take comfort in the fact that one thing is still the same: Jesus. And maybe this will be the year we see Him even more clearly at the center of it all. Our world might be bone-weary but we can still rejoice—because of Jesus…
One tradition we can all enjoy whether we are at home with our loved ones, joining online church gatherings, standing in snowy streets under lamplight, or baking Christmas cookies in the kitchen—is singing carols. We all have our favorites. Mine? “O Holy Night”.
The powerful words combined with exquisite music are a match made in heaven and send shivers up my spine, but what makes it even more fascinating is the story of its origin. It had quite the journey. Sit tight and I’ll give you the condensed version…
- In 1847 Paris, a certain wine merchant and poet named Placide Cappeau was asked by a parish priest to write words for a song to be sung on Christmas Eve. “Cantique de Noel” (“Song of Christmas”) was then put to music by a Jewish friend and performed three weeks later, to the delight of the congregation.
- However, when the Catholic church authorities discovered that Mr. Cappeau had left the church in favor of the philosophy of socialism and the composer was actually a Jew, the carol was banned throughout France.
- After ten years, the carol found its way to America, where abolitionist John Sullivan Dwight was so moved by the words, he published the English translation of “O Holy Night” in his magazine, and it quickly became known and loved during the Civil War.
- It’s believed “O Holy Night” found its way back to the church in France 20 years later after a French soldier jumped out of his muddy trench on the battlefield and began singing the beloved carol. A German soldier responded with one of Luther’s carols and a truce was honored between the battling troops for 24 hours at Christmas.
- And on Christmas Eve in 1906, Reginald Fessenden spoke the first words ever broadcast over radio: Luke chapter 2, the birth of Christ. The icing on the Christmas cake? He then picked up his violin and played the breathtaking music of “O Holy Night” across the airwaves for all to hear.
This little Christmas carol survived much tension and turmoil over the years but its message rings true today and now we are able to proclaim the words amidst our own tension and turmoil as we turn our thoughts to the anticipation of Christmas. To Avent. To Jesus.
“Advent is a time to prepare Him room and to orient our hearts, homes, and minds to the ungraspable magnitude and true meaning of Christmas.” She Reads Truth
As we tiptoe into Advent and embrace the beauty of the season, the truth of the Gift, the Light for our weary world, may we fall on our knees in wonder as we experience the thrill of hope and the deepest joy that is found only in Jesus. We will rejoice in Him!
“Let all within us praise His holy name…”
P.S. If Christmas shopping is on your mind, books make the BEST gifts! You can find my books for children, teens, and adults HERE! 🙂
Also linking up with some fabulous encouragers! Check them out: