Thursday, December 1, 2011

Long live His truth, and may it last forever...

     Tonight I came home to a happy husband listening to Christmas music; after all it is December 1st.  Only 25 more days until Christmas Day!  There are few Christmas Carols that are very special to me; my favorite being, “O Holy Night”. 
     Carols were first sung in Europe thousands of years ago, but they weren’t Christmas Carols.  They were sung at Winter Solstice celebrations.  The word Carol means dance or a song of praise and joy.  Carols used to be written and sung during all four seasons, but only the tradition of singing them at Christmas survived.
     The Christmas Carols I value most are those about the birth of Jesus.  December 25 is the day Christians celebrate that Jesus was born.  Those special Carols bring a feeling of warmth, love, and peace. 

“It came upon a midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth
To touch their harps of gold;
“Peace on the earth, good will to men
From Heaven’s all-gracious King”
The world in solemn stillness lay
To hear the angels sing.”
Edmund Hamilton Sears, “Christmas Carol”, 1850.

“I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “Christmas Bells,” Flower-de-Luce, 1867.

“O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by.”
Phillips Brooks, “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” 1868.

     As I mentioned earlier my favorite Carol is “O Holy Night” by Placide Cappeau.  Cappeau was a wine merchant and poet, who was asked to write a Christmas poem, written in French.  The poem reflects on the birth of Jesus and of mankind’s redemption.  John Sullivan Dwight created a singing edition of which we are most familiar with. 

Literal English Translation:
“Midnight, Christian, it is the solemn hour,
When God-man descended to us
To erase the stain of original sin
And to end the wrath of His Father.
The entire world thrills with hope
On this night that gives it a Savior.
People Kneel down, wait for your deliverance.
Christmas, Christmas, here is the Redeemer,
Christmas, Christmas, here is the Redeemer!
May the ardent light of our Faith
Guide us all to the cradle of the infant,
As in ancient times a brilliant star
Guided the Oriental kings there.
The Kind of Kings was born in a humble manger,
O mighty ones of today, proud of your greatness,
It is to your pride that God preaches.
Bow your heads before the Redeemer!
Bow your heads before the Redeemer!
The Redeemer has overcome every obstacle:
The Earth is free, and Heaven is open.
He sees a brother where there was only a slave,
Love unites those that iron had chained.
Who will tell Him of our gratitude,
For all of us he is born, He suffers and dies.
People stand up! Sing of your deliverance,
Christmas, Christmas, sing of the Redeemer,
Christmas, Christmas, sing of the Redeemer!”

John Sullivan Dwight’s version:
“O! Holy night!  The stars, their gleams prolonging,
Watch o’er the eve of our dear Saviour’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error, longing
For his appearance, then 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! O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O holy night, O night divine!
Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts we stand by the Babe adored.
O’er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
And come now, Shepherds, from your flocks unboard.
The son of God lay thus within lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our Lord.
He knows our need, our weakness never lasting,
Behold your King! By Him, let Earth accord!
Behold your King!  By Him, let Earth accord!
Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Long live His truth, and may it last forever,
For in his name all discordant noise 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 evermore proclaim!
His power and glory evermore proclaim!”


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