The story behind “O Holy Night”, written by Placide Cappeau and Adolph Adams, is disputed. But we know that it originated in France sometime in the 1840s as a poem that was later set to music. Regardless of its origination, whether or not it was an atheist author and a Jewish composer, and if it really was the first song ever broadcast via Canadian radio, it remains one of the most popular Christmas hymns ever written. This version created by Sovereign Grace Music in 2014, and later edited to include the original third verse of the hymn, is a beautiful adaptation of the original.

Most of my worship set list planning centers around the journey from revelation to response. I’ve heard it described as “See, savor, sing”. See the gospel through the lyrical paintings. Savor the gospel in our hearts, with the truth of scripture in our minds and upon our tongues. Sing the gospel to the nations, responding with loud voices in auditory praise. When we look at the hymns that have staying power, the ones that have remained popular and sung by millions for decades and centuries, we see a similar pattern. This hymn is no exception.

Verses 1 and 2 reveal Christ to us. We’re confronted with the “why” of Christ’s birth and brought to a clear understanding of who He is. Verse 1 reveals a very specific point of truth to us through the words “the soul felt its worth.” More on that later.

Verse 3 and its refrain help us to savor. The best definition I’ve read of savor is “to enjoy it completely”. In verse 3 we see a beautiful word picture of summary of Christ’s work. This is the final verse of the original hymn.

Finally in verse 4, as in the repeated refrain, we’re beckoned to respond. We join the shepherds in proclaiming Him as Lord. We’re called to action in spreading the gospel, and we’re instructed to make Christ our Adored, “in reverent worship”. To adore is to love more deeply with respect and worship.

Verse 1:

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Verse 1 Refrain:

Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!

Verse 2:

Humbly He lay, Creator come as creature,
Born on the floor of a hay-scattered stall.
True Son of God, yet bearing human feature,
He entered earth to reverse Adam’s fall.
In towering grace, He laid aside His glory,
And in our place, was sacrificed for sin.

Verse 2 Refrain:

Fall on your knees! O hear the gospel story!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!

Verse 3:

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 now our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we
Let all with-in us praise His holy name

Verse 3 Refreain:

Christ is the Lord, O praise His name for-ever
His power and glory ever more proclaim
His power and glory ever more proclaim

Verse 4:
Come, then, to Him Who lies within the manger,
With joyful shepherds, proclaim Him as Lord.
Let not the Promised Son remain a stranger;
In reverent worship, make Christ your Adored.
Eternal life is theirs who would receive Him;
With grace and peace, their lives He will adorn.

Verse 4 Refrain:
Fall on your knees! Receive the Gift of heaven!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born
O night, O holy night when Christ was born

“The soul felt it’s worth”. In his blog post titled “When the soul felt it’s worth” Rev. Dr. Kenneth Kovacs brings to light what this phrase is referring to. It’s a great post and I encourage you to read it. He writes, “Jesus’ birth demonstrates definitively for the world that the soul has found its worth, that with his birth the soul felt, knew, acknowledged, accepted its worth, its value.” “God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that that world might be saved through him (John 3:17). And God sent the Son because we’re worth the journey, we’re worth the effort. You and I matter, ultimately, in the eyes of God. We are worth the risk, the hurt, the rejection, the suffering of the Son because the Son risked the hurt and rejection and suffering and even death in order for us to know that we are the object of God’s love, the apple of God’s eye.”

When we consider the value that God placed on our souls, and the cost to redeem us, what response do we have but to fall to our knees? “Fall on your knees!” Falling on our knees is an act of surrender. It goes beyond reverence, beyond praise and worship. In falling to our knees, we not only consciously decide to surrender, but to physically represent the decision. Is He worthy of this?


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