MTL Christmas - Page 72

O Holy Night by Kathy Harris The power of the common people can sometimes accomplish more than clerics and generals. One of our most cherished Christmas classics, “O Holy Night,” might very well have been forgotten in time, if not for the intervention of the common man. The song’s lyrics, originally penned in the mid-1800s by Placide Cappeau, a French poet turned political activist and avowed atheist, were commissioned at the request of a priest in the French Catholic church. It was Cappeau who then asked his friend, Jewish music composer Adolphe Charles Adams, to set the words to music. However, following the 1847 debut of “Cantique de Noel,” as the song was then known, it was banned by officials of the Catholic Church, citing the spiritual unworthiness of its composers. Christmas hymns and has been performed by music artists across formats, from Carrie Underwood, Josh Groban, Mariah Carey and Celine Dion to BarlowGirl, Third Day and Luciano Pavarotti, to mention only a few. Yet, perhaps even more importantly, it has continued to rank as a holiday favorite among the “common people,” Christian churchgoers and carolers around the world. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. Colossians 3:16 NIV Despite its twenty-year ostracism by the church, the hymn continued to flourish among commoners. And then history intervened. Legend has it that the song was instrumental in a ceasefire during the midst of the Franco-Persian War, when soldiers from both sides laid down their weapons to sing on Christmas Eve 1871. Thirty-five years later, on another Christmas Eve, in 1906, “O Holy Night” was heard live across radio airwaves when inventor Reginald Fessenden, a former employee of Thomas Edison, included the tune in the first AM radio broadcast. Today “O Holy Night” remains one of our most beloved 72 MTL Magazine / For more from Kathy Harris, check out The Road to Mercy on