Yesterday, I received an e-mail from a friend. I have been blessed to work for several wonderful individuals over the past years. Bill Lee is one such good friend—and former boss—wrapped up in one.
Bill shared with me and many others what had been on his heart the past several weeks as Christmas approached. He gave me permission to share his thoughts on Christmas—a most holy time, with you, my blogging friends.
“Christmas is almost here once again and it seems the world is intent upon taking Christ completely out of this most joyous of celebrations. Many stores display signs that only say “Happy Holidays” and some employers forbid employees from even saying “Merry Christmas” to their customers. Communities across America are forbidden from displaying nativity scenes on public property because these may offend someone who is not of the Christian faith. And every television and news channel runs some story about the merits of the argument of saying “Happy Holidays” as opposed to “Merry Christmas”. How sad that we have come to this point in the world that we fail to acknowledge the birth of Christ.
But for me, the opposite is true. The older I get, the more I am aware of the holiness of the season and feel the need to move away from the glitz, hustle and bustle. In particular, over the last few years, the words to one of the truly great Christmas songs, “O Holy Night” has began to mean more and more to me every time I hear it. This great and beautiful song was written as a poem in 1847 by Placide Cappeau with the musical score added at a later time by his friend Adolphe Charles Adams.
When I hear the song being played on the radio or watch it in a performance on television, I get chill bumps as soon as the song begins to play with those first words, “O, Holy Night”. I sense the real meaning of that first Christmas eve night of over 2000 years ago when the most holy night in the history of mankind was about to unfold. This night was the beginning of the fulfillment for the great plan of salvation for all men after the many prophecies of the birth of a savior that took place over the prior centuries.
The next lines of the song speak to the clear night and bright stars that greeted the birth of Christ and bring to mind the beauty of a clear, winter night when the senses are fully aware of the winter cold and yet experiencing the stunning beauty of the heavens.
The words then express the condition the world had been in for centuries when it speaks of the sin and errors of mankind. Sadly, many of those who would deny that Christ is the reason for the season are still making these same errors and living in a world without hope.
But, just after this come these lyrics – “A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices. For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.” With these words, the song writer describes not just the beginning of single new day on the earth but the beginning of the remainder of human history. For with this “new and glorious morn”, God through Christ the Savior, made a way for the world to experience the fullness of His grace, love and mercy. When I hear these words, I am often moved to tears as I think of the real meaning of this single “new and glorious morn”.
As the song continues, the remainder of the first verse lyrics describe that night as a night divine when the angels were singing at the birth of Christ, which brings to mind the scriptures in Luke about the angels singing. Obviously, the birth of Christ on this night was a cause for celebration in all of creation! This is also one of my favorite parts of the song as it is usually sung with great feeling by the soloist or choir.
Of course, the second verse of the song is also beautiful with great meaning throughout the entirety of the song. But the first verse is all I really need to hear to bring goose bumps to me and to cause my heart to celebrate the real meaning of Christmas.
So, when you hear this great song in the days ahead, I hope it will cause you to stop and be thankful for the holy night and season of Christmas. Or maybe do like I do when I am traveling in my vehicle and hear “O Holy Night” being played. I turn up the volume, sing along with the music and make a glorious noise unto the Lord.
Merry Christmas to all! May you and your family enjoy all of the blessings of that first Holy Night and come to a deeper understanding of what Christmas is really about.”
© Bill Lee-2010. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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 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!