O Holy Night

lyrics by placide cappeau, translated by john sullivan dwight; music by adolphe c. adam

O Holy Night Lyrics

 

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,

It is the night of our dear Saviour's birth.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining,

'Til He appear'd 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! 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 come 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, 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 power and glory evermore proclaim.

His power and glory evermore proclaim.

 

Original French Lyrics (Cantique de Noel)

 

Minuit, chrétiens, c'est l'heure solennelle,

Où l'Homme Dieu descendit jusqu'à nous

Pour effacer la tache originelle

Et de Son Père arrêter le courroux.

Le monde entier tressaille d'espérance

En cette nuit qui lui donne un Sauveur.

Peuple à genoux, attends ta délivrance.

Noël, Noël, voici le Rédempteur,

Noël, Noël, voici le Rédempteur!

 

De notre foi que la lumière ardente

Nous guide tous au berceau de l'Enfant,

Comme autrefois une étoile brillante

Y conduisit les chefs de l'Orient.

Le Roi des rois naît dans une humble crèche:

Puissants du jour, fiers de votre grandeur,

A votre orgueil, c'est de là que Dieu prêche.

Courbez vos fronts devant le Rédempteur.

Courbez vos fronts devant le Rédempteur.

 

Le Rédempteur a brisé toute entrave:

La terre est libre, et le ciel est ouvert.

Il voit un frère où n'était qu'un esclave,

L'amour unit ceux qu'enchaînait le fer.

Qui lui dira notre reconnaissance,

C'est pour nous tous qu'il naît, qu'il souffre et meurt.

Peuple debout! Chante ta délivrance,

Noël, Noël, chantons le Rédempteur,

Noël, Noël, chantons le Rédempteur!

 

O Holy Night Guitar Chords

 

C                 F                  C               

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,

          C            G              C              

It is the night of our dear Saviour's birth.

C                     F             C  C7             

Long lay the world in sin and error pining,

          E7             B7            Em              

'Til He appear'd and the soul felt its worth.
  G7                 C                               

A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,

    G7              C                                

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Am           Em       Dm             Am                   

Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices!

  C  G7   C  F    C          G&         C                 

O night divine, O night when Christ was born;

  G        G7   C Dm   C       G7 C                        

O night, O holy night, O night divine!

 

Scripture References

  • Luke 2:8-11 - And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 
  • John 1:14 - The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory,the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
  • John 13:35 - By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

The Story

 

O Holy Night started as a French Christmas carol written in 1847. A wine commissionaire of a small French town, Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure, was known throughout the town for his poetry, and one day the local parish priest asked him to write a poem for Christmas mass. Using the gospel of Luke as his guide, Cappeau imagined himself in Bethlehem witnessing the birth of Jesus.

 

Cappeau felt that his poem needed music, so he reached out to one of his friends, Adolphe Charles Adams, the son of a well-known classical musician and a student of the Paris conservatoire. Even though Adams was Jewish, he was inspired by Cappeau's beautiful words to write an equally beautiful score, which was performed at Christmas mass just three weeks later.

 

"Cantique De Noel" became a popular hymn throughout the churches in France. But in time, Cappeau would leave the church to join the socialist movement. The church leaders also discovered that the composer of the music was Jewish. Soon, the church officially denounced the song and banned it as unfit for church services because of its "lack of musical taste" and "total absence of the spirit or religion".

 

Despite the church's official stance on the song, people in France continued to sing it. Legend has it that on Christmas Eve of 1871 when the Franco-Prussian war between France and Germany was at its fiercest, a soldier in the French army jumped out of a trench with no weapon and sang "Minuit, Chretiens, c'est l'heure solennelle ou L'Homme Dieu descendit jusqu'a nous". After completing all three verses of "Cantique de Noel", a German soldier climbed out of his hiding place and sang Martin Luther's "From Heaven Above to Earth I Come". The story goes that this brought on a 24 hour temporary truce in honor of Christmas Day.

 

In a move that would further solidify the hymn's popularity, an American writer named John Sullivan Dwight translated the lyrics to English. Dwight was an ardent abolitionist, so the third verse that read "Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother" especially resonated with him. He published the English lyrics in his magazine, and the song took off in the United States, starting in the North.

 

The hymn had yet another interesting place in history. On Christmas Eve 1906, a professor named Reginald Fessenden, a former chief chemist for Thomas Edison, using a new type of generator, spoke into a microphone, and for the first time in history broadcast his voice signals over the airwaves. Around the world, speakers that had been designed to listen for coded impulses now carried a human voice for the first time. For the first words ever to be broadcast on radio, he chose the text of Luke 2. He then played "O Holy Night" on his violin, the first song ever to be played over the radio.

 

 

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