O Holy Night is a Christmas song of French origins. It is known as Cantique de Noël, written by Placide Cappeau in 1843. John Sullivan Dwight, a Unitarian Minister and a classical music critic in America, wrote the English version of the song.
The Christmas carol celebrates the birth of Christ. It is sung by many people around the world. Famous singers and performers have presented the song on various stages and events. Sounds great, right?
Did you know that the song has a fascinating history? We’ve got some information to share with you. Here's what you need to know!
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,
Till 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 divine, O 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 the 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 weaknesses 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.
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Check out The McClures singing the song:
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Origins and History
Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure was a poet and wine commissioner. He wasn’t essentially a church-goer (a believer) but wrote the song when a local priest requested him. It’s said that Placide Cappeau referred to the Bible and used his imagination to visualize how it would be to witness the birth of Christ. That resulted in this beautiful song Cantique de Noël.
Despite not being religious, the poet realized that his song was powerful. He asked his friend, Adolphe Adam, to set the tune for it. However, Adam was a Jew. Despite the apparent religious difference, Adam composed a tune for the priest to sing at Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. Soon, the song became popular in France. Most Catholic churches adopted it and added it to their hymnbook for Christmas.
But a few years later, Placide Cappeau became a socialist and denounced religion. The churches got to know that Adam was a Jew. They removed the song from their list and called it unworthy of being used for worship.
However, families continued to sing the carol at home. Sometime in 1855, John Sullivan Dwight came across the Christmas song and translated it into English, which became a hit in the US. Many connected the hymn with a celebration of freedom.
Fast-forward a few more years to 1871. The soldiers began to sing Cantique de Noel during the Franco-Prussian war. The Germans sang their hymns, which resulted in a 24-hour truce between the two sides for Christmas. The song again became a part of the French Christmas celebrations.
Well, yes. The song has a complex composition. Amateur and novice singers can find it hard to hit the right notes. Many artists have performed it, and countless singers sing it every year for Christmas.
Professor Reginald Fessenden played the song on his violin in 1906 and broadcasted it on the radio. It was the first time a human voice was broadcast over the radio.