Christmas Advent, Faith, Spiritual Encouragement, Stories from Scripture
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25 Gifts-Why Jesus? {Advent 2014, Day 15}

A thrill of hope the weary world-2

Our roofline is outlined in lights. Our trees glow with merry warmth. It is, as the cheery song says, beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

It was a full day and the final Sunday of Advent.

As I puttered around the house, putting things in a bit of order before I climbed into bed, I glanced out of my kitchen window and spotted the north star. Shining white and clear in the cloudless night sky, it reminded me of my favorite Christmas song. It’s the song that never fails to gather tears in my eyes every.single.time I sing it, O Holy Night.

Sung in churches and recorded over and over again on Christmas albums, this song began in a small French village in 1847. A village priest asked his friend and ad hock poet (who sold wine as a trade) to write a poem to be read for Christmas mass. Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure asked a composer to set music to his words and the carol we know and sing with gusto was born, sung on Christmas Eve in a small village parish.

The writer became a socialist and left the church. The composer was Jewish. But the song itself became a beloved tune by the French people. Although it fell out of fashion in formal church use, carolers and families, farmers and shopowners crooned the lyrics and hummed its melody.

And one Christmas Eve a soldier climbed out of his cold, wet trench on the front lines of the Franco-Prussian war and began to sing in his native tongue the opening lines of O Holy Night. All the men lay down their weapons and took up the songs of Christmas that night. No one was shot or captured, killed or wounded where the pinprick of light from this song shone into the battle.

Several years passed and on the eve of Christmas, 1906, an apprentice of Thomas Edison, a man little known named Reginald Fessenden, was working on broadcasting voice over radio waves. The first words spoken over radio were Fessenden reading Luke 2, the Christmas story. And the first song ever heard over radio? O Holy Night. Because Fessenden was also a violinist. He played the melody that we know and love. O Holy Night.

So when we sing along this Christmas, we are singing the miraculous, the preserved and inspired words that hold the promise of hope that all people need. We need light. We need perspective. We need this king and friend and this thrill of hope.

“Long lay the world in sin and error pining

‘Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth….”

And this is the measure of our worth, that we can know true value in the appearance and presence of Jesus. It’s not in our performance or our accomplishments, our popularity or our politics. Our worth is felt, tangible and whole and untarnished, in seeing our need and in seeing our savior.

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,

It is the night of the dear Saviour’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 world rejoices,

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!

O night divine, the night when Christ was born;

O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

 

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,

With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.

O’er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,

Now come the wisemen from out of the Orient land.

The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;

In all our trials born to be our friends.

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 he shall break, for the slave is our brother.

And in his name all oppression shall cease.

Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,

With all our hearts we praise His holy name.

Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,

His power and glory ever more proclaim!

His power and glory ever more proclaim!

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