Songs of Advent 5

booklet.FH11‘O Holy Night’ (Cantique de Noël) has to be one of the most beautiful songs of the season.  It’s from the poem ‘Minuit, chrétiens’ (Midnight, Christians) written by the Frenchman Placide Cappeau (1808-1877).  Cappeau was the son of a wine merchant who would eventually take up the family business, but his first love was forever poetry. Well educated in art, law and literature, Cappeau was asked by his parish priest to write a poem for Christmas.  It was risky request. Cappeau was a staunch socialist, a republican and strongly anti-clerical in his religion.  He wrote the poem on a stagecoach to Paris.

Cappeau’s words were put to music in 1847 by Adolphe Adam and then a few years later the Unitarian minister John Sullivan Dwight adapted the poem into the English version we sing today.

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 angel 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!

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.

Andreana Reale from our 5pm congregation rates ‘O Holy Night’ near the top of her Advent song list:

‘I can’t explain why I love it so much. But when I hear it it makes my heart swell up, in a good way. It did feature on Home Alone, one of my favourite childhood Christmas movies (that I have watched MANY times), so maybe that has something to do with it. It is in the scene where the young hero Kevin is in church and meets the scary man who puts salt on the snow, and realises he’s not so scary after all, and then convinces the old man to reconcile with his family.’ 

Just for you Andreana:


  1. Ooops. that wasn’t it but Studio 60 (not bad, but not the one i was looking for). Youtube let me down. I have it on DVD… its brilliant!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s