The stars are brightly shining…
posted at 2:40 pm on December 25, 2012 by Mary Katharine Ham
Long lay the world in sin and error pining, ’til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
The Gospel, in one beautiful sentence. I put it right up there with John 3:16 as elegant, economical expressions of an entire religion go. Whether you’re a believer or just a fan of good writing, it’s a line for the ages.
A thrill of hope
The weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks
A new and glorious morn!
“O Holy Night” went through several iterations before it became the hymn as we know it. French poet (and wine merchant) Placide Cappeau wrote the first version, “Minuit, chrétiens,” which was put to the music of French composer Adolphe Adam in 1847. The literal English translation looks nothing like “O Holy Night,” but it was later loosely translated and interpreted by Boston Unitarian minister John Sullivan Dwight. It was first published in English in 1855, along with another French hymn, “Angels We Have Heard on High.”
From the Christmas Music Companion Fact Book, we learn it was not well-received in its first outing:
Adam’s composition was first performed in the 1847 Christmas Eve midnight mass in the church of Roquemaure, France. Church authorities frowned on the song, and one French bishop denounced it for its “lack of musical taste and total absence of the spirit of religion.”
I beg to differ. So, we have two talented Frenchmen and one of our early fellow countrymen to thank for bringing us this breathtaking song.
Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine, oh night, oh night divine