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#32: O Holy Night

Adolphe Charles Adam was an accomplished composer for opera, theatre, and ballet, and a teacher at the Paris Conservatoire. At the age of 27, in 1830, he had completed nearly 30 theatre productions. “Cantique de Noël,” translated to English as “O Holy Night” is one of his most famous works, done in collaboration with Adam’s friend Cappeau de Roquemaure, who supplied the lyrics to Adam’s melody.

Strangely enough, the song was originally frowned upon by the 19th-century church authorities. One French bishop even denounced it as “unfit for church services because of its lack of musical taste and total absence of the spirit of religion.” Fortunately, people didn’t take this criticism to heart, and this carol went on to become a beloved Christmas classic. The English words to the carol were written by John Sullivan Dwight in 1855.

Lyrics

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night, O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night, O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
O’er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
Now come the wisemen from out of the Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friends.
He knows our need, 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 he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

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