Music

The Story Behind a Timeless Musical Statement of Faith, 'O Holy Night'

Screengrab via YouTube

For Christians, "O Holy Night" lays out the reason for the Christmas season better than just about any medium outside of the New Testament. For singers, it's a measure of talent because not just anyone can make it their own.

The song, also known as "Cantique de Noël," was written composed by Adolphe Adam in 1847 and based off Placide Cappeau's French poem "Minuit, chrétiens" ("Midnight, Christians"). The Christmas poem, written in 1843 per a parish priest's request, commemorated the restoration of a church organ in the French city of Roquemaure.

John Sullivan Dwight, a Unitarian minister and one of America's earliest classical music tastemakers, translated the Christmas song to English in 1855.

Fast-forward to 2020, and Carrie Underwood reminded us that "O Holy Night" requires a vocal performance that'd stifle Simon Cowell when she included the timeless Christmas carol on her first-ever holiday album, My Gift.

She turned in a soul-stirring performance of the song during a December 2020 appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

Read More: 15 Matching Family Pajamas For a Merry Christmas

The story of not just Christ's birth but also why his 33 years on Earth should matter to believers has become synonymous in popular culture with the holiday recordings of John Berry, Mariah Carey and others.

Here's Dwight's interpretation of the song's timeless lyrics, which have long since become public domain.

?"O Holy Night" Lyrics

O holy night! the stars are brightly shining;
It is the night of the dear Savior'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! O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night, O holy 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 chorus raise we;
Let all within us praise his holy name.
Christ is the Lord! O praise his name forever!
His pow'r and glory evermore proclaim!
His pow'r and glory evermore proclaim!
His pow'r and glory evermore proclaim!

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The Story Behind a Timeless Musical Statement of Faith, 'O Holy Night'