O Holy Night

I was in the airport yester-evening, and non-stop Christmas music was playing. Yes, Christmas in America has become a commercialized event, but I still can’t help but smile a bit when I hear the Christmas story declared boldly everywhere. At the same time, the ugly truth is there as well: the world wants to take religion out of everything (even sports!), specifically Christ, even out of a time when the incarnation is celebrated.

Anyway I thought this was pretty cool. I was looking around for the lyrics of Oh Holy Nights, and Wikipedia, however trustworthy you deem it to be, and it gave me some pretty interesting information regarding the words of the song. I found it disheartening to see that secular artists usually only sing the first verse, though that itself is packed with biblical and theological implications. I wonder if Mariah Carey has any idea what she is singing about (although as proven earlier, she could possibly be a two-point calvinist).

The song was composed in 1847 by the Frenchman Adolphe Adam.

There are a bunch of variations. There is also a seemingly more culturally-relevant version and a translation that is more faithful to the original language (French). You will see that the direct translation is much more striking that the usual.

It’s sort of like comparing the ESV or NIV to the NASB. Just kidding, please don’t stone me.

O Holy Night – Version 1 [ESV/NIV version]:
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 angels’ 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 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 weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King, Behold your King.
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.

Sorry for the format. I don’t know why the verses and the chorus’ wont separate and I spent 20 minutes trying to fix it. Regardless, looks pretty good right? There are a lot of insightful things, especially in the third verse, that help expand our often limited view of Christmas beyond what the Gospels directly state. Okay, let’s look at the better version that is probably a lot harder to sing.

O Holy Night – Version 2 [NASB version]:

Midnight, Christians, it’s the solemn hour,
When God-man descended to us
To erase the stain of original sin
And to end the wrath of His Father.
The entire world thrills with hope
On this night that gives it a Savior.

People kneel down, wait for your deliverance.
Christmas, Christmas, here is the Redeemer,
Christmas, Christmas, here is the Redeemer!

The ardent light of our Faith,
Guides us all to the cradle of the infant,
As in ancient times a brilliant star
Conducted the Magi there from the orient.
The King of kings was born in a humble manger;
O mighty ones of today, proud of your grandeur,

It is to your pride that God preaches.
Bow your heads before the Redeemer!
Bow your heads before the Redeemer!

The Redeemer has overcome every obstacle:
The Earth is free, and Heaven is open.
He sees a brother where there was only a slave,
Love unites those that iron had chained.
Who will tell Him of our gratitude,
It’s for all of us that He is born,
That He suffers and dies.

People stand up! Sing of your deliverance,
Christmas, Christmas, sing of the Redeemer,
Christmas, Christmas, sing of the Redeemer!

Some of the differences are pretty noticeable, but I’ll leave it up to you to determine what stands out to you. Actually, I will end on this note.

It’s for all of us that He is born,
That He suffers and dies.

To celebrate the birth of Christ is to celebrate the entirety of His ministry, from eternity past to eternity future. The plan of redemption has been always been in existence, and Christmas celebrates the beginning of the short ministry of the “God-man” who came to “erase the stain of original sin.” But that is for another post. I’ll most-likely put up my encouragement notes next week because I’m speaking at the college Christmas party. I need to start preparing.
p.s. i like this.

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