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The Joy of Christmas Music: O Holy Night

The Joy of Christmas Music: O Holy Night

Luke 2:4-12 (NIV)

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

I love Christmas.  I always have. The memories I have of Christmas as a child are full of joy, are vivid and treasured.  My family was blessed with gifts, traditions, celebrations and yet we always held the true meaning close to our hearts and experiences.  For these family treasures, I am most grateful.

There were some years in my life when Christmas seemed diminished by the struggles, pain, and circumstances.  Much of the joy was gone.  Yet because of my deep roots in this season, I was usually able to find periods of joy and peace.  The gift of Christmas is God Himself—and whether it is the Christmas season or any other time of year, He is my Rock and my Salvation, the One to whom I cling!

This past year the Lord has been leading me on a journey with Him in a relatively new city, home, and life.  The mourning season is over as God is building a good life for us here!  Scott and I are settled into a routine, have found a lovely church, a rhythm to our lives and I have looked forward to this Christmas season.  The decorations have found a niche in our home.  Lights and candles are the stars!!  Crosses, nativities, angels, and evergreen boughs usher in the true meaning of the season—alongside the Santas, snowmen, and vintage villages!

This Christmas, however, I am finding special joy in the music of the season.  The old and new, the carols and the hymns all take me to a place of praise and worship.  I will sing off key, raise my hands, dance around the room, or pound the roof in my car!!  The Holy Spirit seems to be moving me to the throne of God with these songs about the Gift of the Season—Jesus.  The Advent sermon series at church is even called, “Come and Sing”.  We are looking at some of the songs of Advent in Scripture.

The Joy of Christmas is the gift of God Himself.

O Holy Night ranks up there as one of my most precious carols.  I learned to play it on the piano as a girl.  My sister Nancy played it on the recorder—the one she held on to since fourth grade music class.  We used to play it to together – laughing at the mistakes but loving the hauntingly beautiful melody.

One recent morning, during my devotion time, I found a version of O Holy Night by Crowder on You Tube, played and found myself moved by the beauty and meaning of the words—all the words.  It was as if I was hearing them for the first time.  The truth about God and His Son, revealed in the words lifted my heart and my hands in praise.

Let’s look at some of the lyrics together!

O Holy Night
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth
Long lay the world in sin and e’er pining
‘Til 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 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 came 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!

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 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.
O night divine, O night, O night divine.

In the first stanza are these words: Long lay the world in sin and e’er pining, ‘Til He appeared, and the soul felt its worth.  God appeared!!  Emmanual!  He didn’t send an angel has He had in the past. No!  Born in Bethlehem that night was Jesus, Son of God.  And through that birth, that coming of God to earth—”the soul felt its worth”.   My soul rejoices in God my Savior!  My soul is a living and vital entity of me—the source of my hope and faith and joy.  Sin no longer reigns, but Christ is victor over sin!  The soul finds its worth in a relationship with Jesus.  That, my friend, is enough to make me Fall on my knees!

My soul is a living and vital entity of me—the source of my hope and faith and joy. 

“He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger, Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!  How does that make you feel to know the God knows your need!  Before you even ask—He knows.  He knows our weakness as well.  Jesus, fully man and fully God, experienced the weaknesses of a human body!  And yet He loves us and provides us anyway.  He knew that all our ‘need’ was wrapped up in the need for a Savior.  So, God gave us one—His son.

Yes, I behold my King, and I bow to him!  Thank for the gift of knowing and fulfilling all my need and weaknesses on that Holy Night so long ago!

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.
He came not just to save but to show us how to love.  To love all—not only those who are loveable or just like us.  He came to set us free from all those arbitrary traits that men have used to separate us from each other down through the ages.  It must make Him weep to see how hard it is for us to learn this lesson of loving each other.

Do we live in such a way as to end oppression?  Do we serve well, those who are indeed oppressed?  Do we stand up for them in prayer, with our gifts, with our votes, with our voices?  I know that all oppression has not ceased–nor will it completely until the day He comes again, but I can look at my own life and determined if it has ceased in my thoughts, words, and deeds.

Jesus, I want to love like you.  I want to see the slave as my brother.  I want love to rule in my life and peace to be the path I walk.  You lived that way—you showed us the love, joy and the grace of the Father.  Be patient with me, Jesus, with us, as together we learn to become more like you!

Let all within us praise Your holy name, Jesus.  Thank you for words penned over one hundred years ago and music composed by someone who did not even know you.  The depth and beauty still inspire me – inspires us – with the need and desire to:

love you more,

praise you more,

seek you more,

live to love more like you,

and to share this love with others.

O holy night, O night when Christ was born…o night divine.

May these words and lessons in the song, remain in our hearts always— this Christmas season and beyond.


3 thoughts on “The Joy of Christmas Music: O Holy Night”

  1. Dear Friend Karen. O Holy Night has long been my favorite carol. too….it gives me comfort. Life is full of changes isn’t it. We are finding it here as we are all recovering from Covid. My dear husband Jim now has Dementia, My 97 yr old mother is living with us and needs much care, and my decision to step down from both of my beloved churches to care fro them. Yet, God is here and there and everywhere when I need Him. Even in the times I feel bewildered or alone, even when I am adjusting to the changes, I know Emmanuel God is with me…. blessings and Merry Christmas Patty Smith
    P.S. I think I will sit down to the piano and play O Holy Night , haven’t played it in years… Thanks much for the reminder

    1. Patty,
      Thank you for sharing your news. My prayers are with you as you walk through this new season in your life. I hope Jim still has that sweet smile! The Lord is faithful and He will provide all you need! I wish I could you playing the song!!
      Blessings and Merry Christmas to you too.

  2. Sherrill L Schlimpert

    Another beautiful blog. Your spirit of loving Christmas and all it means comes through so beautifully in your words and is contagious. It’s so good to see that you have arrived at a pleasant place in your journey. But as always you have gone from strength to strength with the big curves in the path. May this year bring many more blessings.

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