What would Christmas be like without our favorite Christmas Carols?
As we kick off this holiday season we, the worship exposed team, wanted to dive a little further into these heartfelt and memories filled Christmas songs that have showered through our homes, churches and communities for decades. As I gathered details for this series, I battled with what Christmas Carol to write about. Between Hark the Herald, Silent Night and Joy to the Lord, it was a tough call, but ultimately I decided to write about one of my favorite Carols growing up and singing.
O Holy Night
We may all have at one point sang this classic Carol and some of us might have even memorized the lyrics, but have you truly dissected the song, it's history and how it is more of a worship song than anything else?
I won't go too deep into the history of this song, but I believe that the impact of a song starts with it's roots and origins. Believe it or not, this well-known Christmas Carol, O Holy Night, did not start out as a song. ... In 1847 it started with a French poem written by Placide Cappeau, a wine merchant, mayor of the town, and an occasional poet, who had been asked by a parish priest to write a poem for Christmas mass. Using the gospel of Luke as his guide, Cappeau imagined witnessing the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. Thoughts of being present on the blessed night inspired him. Later on Cappeau decided that his writing was just not a poem, but could be put into a song. So he turned to one of his friends Adalph Adams for help and Adams was able to compose the poem into music that decades later we are still singing. (Important Fact: On December 24, 1906, Reginald Fessenden, a Canadian inventor, broadcast the first AM radio program, which included him playing “O Holy Night” on the violin and singing the final verse. The Carol therefore was one of the first pieces of music to be broadcast on radio.)
I can't recall the first time I heard this song, but I remember singing it a couple of years ago with the youth of our church. This lyrics of this song resonated with me and really opened my eyes, allowing me to visually see and put the pieces of the birth of Jesus Christ together as inspired by the Gospel of Luke. It quite honestly was a similar experience to Mr. Cappeau.
As I have mentioned several times this Carol is not only a great Christmas Carol that we have sung and continue to sing year after year, this Carol has such biblical roots and holds so much truth and substance in the Christian faith. Biblically inspired from the Gospel of Luke, O Holy Night depicts the details of not only the birth of Jesus, but many forget that this Carol truly describes the life of Christ, His purpose and the eternal impact that He has left on each and every one of us. But has it ever crossed your mind that this timeless Carol could possibly be one the greatest worship songs to ever be written?
You might be thinking where does worship fall into all of this? What does worship have to do with this Carol and even Christmas itself?
Worship has everything to do with not only this Carol, but with this whole holiday season. Between gifts, decorations, parties, food, travel, etc many have lost the true meaning and significance of this holiday season, but what I love about O Holy Night is that it strips everything to it's rawest and most purest form, Jesus. This Carol depicts God's response to us when he gave us his son Jesus. The almighty God expressed His love to us by giving us his son Jesus to die for our sins and give us eternal life with him. John 3: 16 best describes this by saying, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." God truly gave us the greatest gift, Jesus. So how much more should our response be to God? Our response should be exactly what the Carol says,
"...Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, Let all within us praise His holy name."
Worship is a response, an expression and lifestyle, so as crazy and complicated as this holiday season may get for many of us, let's remember the simple meaning and the simple message.
"Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever, His power and glory evermore proclaim. His power and glory evermore proclaim."
Merry Christmas to you and your Family!
O Holy Night - Historical Video
Recommended Song of the Week: "O Holy Night" by Josh Groban