During this time of Christmas it is nearly impossible to avoid the sounds of the season, whether on the car radio, during a church service or a choral program. In most cases what we hear is a mix of secular song and religious music. While being constantly bombarded by the opening line of the Christmas Song – ” chestnuts roasting on an open fire,” one of my favorite religious songs is O Holy Night, a stirring and uplifting melody with words that beautifully remind us of what Christmas celebrates and why that celebration is important for all humans.
But what often happens when Christmas songs are played or sung is that emphasis is usually placed on the opening lines, while ignoring the words and the message of the entire composition. This is the case with O Holy Night. Thanks to our daughter Ann, I was introduced to the third verse of this classic Christmas song, which presents the important message of the season and the true meaning of Christianity.
As translated from the French composer, Adolphe Adam by John Sullivan Dwight, verse three of O Holy Night provides a guiding light for all of us this Christmas:
“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.”
What a powerful message of our responsibilities as humans, whether believers or non-believers; what a clear vision of what work needs to be done in His name; what a eternal statement of the importance of love, peace and justice and freedom that must become a part of our daily lives.
These simple but direct words from O Holy Night now adorns our dining wall during the Christmas season to remind all who visit our home what we must take with us during this important time. We certainly celebrate the birth of Christ on Christmas but as verse three of this religious song states, we have an obligation to make the message of Christmas stay with us the rest of the year, the rest of our lives here on earth.
Merry Christmas to all.