Tuesday, November 9, 2010

O Holy Night: Introduction

Sure, it's early. I mean, we haven't even had Thanksgiving yet, and "Reformation Day" and Guy Fawkes Night are barely over. But I'm going to plow ahead anyway with a project I've been kicking around since last year when I had the pleasure of seeing Roger Overton do it first over at Evangel: I'm going to blog my way through a Christmas Carol. In fact, he did such a good job that I'm going to copy him and blog the same carol, O Holy Night. (And because it's been a year since I read his posts, there will undoubtedly be some unconscious plagiarism going on, a thousand apologies Mr. Overton!)
The hymn was originally a French tune written in the early 19th century, and, according to Cyberhymnal may have been the first song ever broadcast by radio. The original version has three verses, only the first and last of which are regularly performed.
The broad theme of the hymn is the Incarnation, whereby God became man in the person of Jesus Christ. As Scripture says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men." (John 1:1-4) The Creator and Eternal Word, the source of all life and light Who has existed for all eternity with God and Who was God became a man when "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us." (John 1:14) This in and of itself is an infinite mystery, but adding wonder to the mystery is the truth that the Word became flesh to lay down His life for His enemies. The carol is a meditation on these verses, and well worth our time and attention.
O holy night, the stars are brightly shining;
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary soul 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, 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! O praise His name forever!
His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim!
His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim!

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