(Photo by Grace Lee)
The Powerful Message of “O Holy Night”
By Samantha Dammann
Did you know that “O Holy Night” tells the gospel message? “O Holy Night” is one of the most cherished Christmas carols of all time. Almost every musical artist has covered this carol at some point in his or her career. From Ella Fitzgerald and Perry Como, to ‘NSYNC and Lauren Daigle, there’s a version out there from just about everybody. While most people could probably hum along to the song, I don’t know that many people have actually paid attention to the carol’s words.
“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.”
These lines are from the carol’s first two stanzas, and they are packed with truth: All of humanity is trapped in its inherently sinful nature and groans for a savior; Jesus is this savior, and his sacrifice gives us new value as the redeemed children of God; Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection was “a new and glorious morn” because it offered us the hope of redemption, allowing us to be made new.
That’s a whole lot of theology!
“O Holy Night” not only informs us about our redemption through Jesus’ sacrifice, but also tells us how we ought to live with one another in light of this redemption.
“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.”
These lines are made even more potent by the current state of America. Our country is severely divided. No matter what your personal views on the presidential election are, it’s impossible to ignore the cries of the people around us. Everybody in America is hurting for one reason or another, and nobody really knows what to do.
This carol, which was written by two Frenchmen in 1847, holds wisdom that is applicable to the twenty-first century American.
In the face of our fractured country and humanity’s deep cries for peace, the only thing to do is look to Jesus. As the carol says, Jesus is the one that will end oppression, that will break chains, that will bring peace.
This carol doesn’t only speak of redemption and relationships. The final stanza of this carol, as well as the chorus, command us to praise God.
“Christ is the Lord, O praise His name forever/ His power and glory evermore proclaim/ Fall on your knees, oh hear the angel voices/ Oh night divine, when Christ was born/ oh night divine.”
It turns out that “O Holy Night” is a much more powerful song than I had originally realized.
This holiday season I encourage you to take the truths proclaimed in “O Holy Night” to heart. Praise God for his great mercy of salvation, love your fellow man, and proclaim God’s power and glory.
I also encourage you to take a second look at the things around you. I’ve heard this song hundreds of times before, but have just now understood the great meaning the lyrics hold. Ask God to help you see the people and things around you with new eyes. Perhaps you’ll be surprised by what God shows you.
A poetic wine merchant that rarely went to church wrote “O Holy Night.” Don’t underestimate God’s ability to work through even the most unlikely of people, and in the most unlikely of circumstances.