Friday, December 24, 2010

Holy Night

Here's a fresh look at a piece of wondrous, classic Christmas music:
O Holy Night.

Originally a French composition by Placide Cappeau, it was translated into English in by the thoughtful gentleman pictured above, who shared the frenchman's deep-rooted anti-slavery sentiments: John Sullivan Dwight (1813-1893). Unitarian minister, music critic, abolitionist.

As far back as 1837 Dwight had been preaching against slavery, delivering sermons on the great evil in-between more tranquil moments spent translating poetry by Goethe and Schiller. And there was music, always music: Dwight went on to publish, for four decades, the influential Journal Of Music: A Paper On Art And Literature.

In 1855 he is said to have first published his translation of Cappeau's French piece, "Minuit, Chretiens" ["Midnight, Christians"]. Today, we stop short from singing the piece in its original form... even though the Christmas wish expressed in its second half still applies in our time:

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, Before Him lowly bend!

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.

Merry Christmas to my co-bloggers, Dag and Truepeers; thanks for teaching me how to dig deeper for deeper strength.

And a Very Merry Christmas to all: may the special day bring each of you the renewal of strength you need to persevere... And let us keep in our thoughts and our prayers, those who will be denied their Holy Day this year, as a day of Peace.

May your soul feel its worth...


Dag said...

Thanks, Charles, and to all of our readers and friends around the world.

My best wishes for the day and the year to come.


truepeers said...

Merry Christmas All

able seaman said...

Me too.


Please change the colour (color for Dag) scheme. Your particular blue on grey type is almost perfect camouflage.

Always On Watch said...

Today, we stop short from singing the piece in its original form...


Well, I guess that I'm getting old. Back in the 1960s, in a Christian school, we had to learn all the original verses.