“Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” – Psalm 30:5 NLT
One of the world’s most endearing Christmas carols had a surprising origin.
The central character of this origin was Placide Cappeau, a wine merchant and mayor of Roquemaure, France. In 1847, to the surprise of people in his town, the parish priest asked Cappeau to write a Christmas poem. Cappeau’s only qualification at the time was his love of writing poems. The result was “Cantique de Noel” (in English, “O Holy Night”).
That same year, Cappeau’s friend Adolphe-Charles Adam wrote accompanying music for the carol, and it debuted on Christmas Eve. The initial response to it was positive, but after Cappeau left the church, the carol was condemned when it was discovered that Adam was Jewish.
The English version of “O Holy Night” developed when American writer John Sullivan Dwight discovered it. A dedicated abolitionist, Dwight was moved by the carol’s reminder that Jesus came to bring justice: “Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother, and in His name all oppression shall cease.”
“O Holy Night” became popular throughout the North during the American Civil War, and its popularity continued throughout the country after the War. In 1906, it became the first song to be sent through the air with radio waves.
Since then, the carol has moved millions with its message of hope. “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.”
Through Jesus, each of us is offered a “new and glorious morn,” when we can have a peace that passes understanding, our sins can be forgiven, and our guilt washed away. Whenever you sing this carol, remember all that you owe to Jesus. “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!”
Let all that is within you praise His holy name!