Today’s Bible Reading

Turn to me and be saved,
   all the ends of the earth!
   For I am God, and there is no other.
By myself I have sworn,
   from my mouth has gone forth in righteousness
   a word that shall not return:
“To me every knee shall bow,
   every tongue shall swear.” — Isaiah 45:22-23

We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written,

“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
   and every tongue shall give praise to God.”
So then, each of us will be accountable to God. — Romans 14:7-12

More thoughts for meditation

The story of the song, O Holy Night, is a checked story of mistakes and triumphs.  It starts when an obscure French priest asks an ambivalent parishioner poet to create a new poem for Christmas mass. In 1847, Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure was asked to write the poem and he penned the French version of the song, using the Gospel of Luke as his guide and imagining himself in Bethlehem for the birth. He finished the poem quickly and felt inspired by his own work.  He decided the poem should be set to music and so he turned to his friend, Adolphe Charles Adams, an accomplished composer and a Jew. Their combined work pleased the local priest and “Cantique de Noel” was performed at midnight mass just a few weeks later. It was well-received and became a favorite among the people.  Later when Cappeau became a socialist and walked away from the church and it was discovered that Adams was a Jew, the song was banned in French Catholic churches as “unfit.”  The people kept singing it at home. A decade later an American writer, John Sullivan Dwight, translated the lyrics to “O Holy Night.”  As an abolitionist, he identified with the third verse: “Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother, And in his name all oppression shall cease…” The song became extremely popular across the North during the Civil War.

Back in France, the song was banned for over two decades, but remained a favorite of common people. Legend records that in 1871 during fierce fighting between France and Germany during the Franco-Prussian Wars, on Christmas Eve, a French soldier jumped out of his trench without his weapon and sang the song to his enemies. A German soldier then answered with a German hymn and a cease-fire took place for 24 hours to celebrate Christmas.  And on yet another Christmas Eve in 1906, Reginald Fessenden, a 33-year-old university professor and former chief chemist for Thomas Edison, used a new form of generator and spoke into his microphone, broadcasting a human voice for the first time in history.  Shocked radio operators and wireless owners at newspaper and on board ships around the world, heard Fessenden reading from the Gospel of Luke instead of the coded impulses they expected. When he finished the account of the birth of Jesus, Fessenden picked up his violin and played O Holy Night. Fessenden had no idea he had shaken the world and the first song ever broadcast via radio was this favorite carol.  

Suggestions for Action

Small beginnings, greater ends… sing along with boys in  this version of the song and remember that you are in this story as Cappeau imagined. We are a part of the holiness Christ has unleashed on earth.

O Holy Night

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 world1 rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn;

Fall on your knees, Oh 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 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 no stranger!
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King! your King! before him 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, then ever! ever praise we!
His pow’r and glory, evermore proclaim!
His pow’r and glory, evermore proclaim!