O Holy Night
I love the history of this 1847 song (the first song to be broadcast on radio, in 1906), a song that was initially rejected by many churches because its lyricist was a “free-thinker” wine merchant, its composer was Jewish, and its third verse was decidedly anti-slavery:
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.
Sadly, most recorded versions of “O Holy Night” leave out that third verse. A recent one that doesn’t is on Holly Happy Days, a beautiful, mostly-acoustic new CD from the Indigo Girls. Another is on the Christmas Offerings CD by Third Day, one of my favorite Christian rock groups.
Both versions are good renditions of my all-time favorite Christmas carol, which has a somewhat-gnostic bent in its first verse: equating “sin” with “error” (rather than disobedience or transgression) and describing the appearance of the Christ child as the time when “the soul felt its worth.”
May your soul feel its true worth this Christmas!