Hymn: O Holy Night

Words: Placide Cappeau, 1843; translated from French to English by John S. Dwight

Music: Adolphe C. Adam, 1843

The beautiful O Holy Night was written by Frenchman Placid Cappeau in 1843 and composed by Adolphe Adam the same year. They were introduced by a mutual friend. John S. Dwight translated the hymn from French to English in 1855. Canadian inventor Reginald A. Fessenden played O Holy Night on a violin on a radio transmission from Brant Rock, Massachusetts, to ships at sea on Christmas Eve, 1906. It is believed to be the first music ever broadcast over radio.

Placide Cappeau (1808-1877) was a French wine merchant and mayor of Roquemaure. He lost a hand in a firearms accident at age eight, and he wrote poetry for his own enjoyment.

Adolphe Charles Adam (1803-1856) studied at the Paris Conservatory, where his father was among his teachers. He wrote more than fifty operas and twelve ballets.

John Sullivan Dwight (1813-1893) was a graduate of Harvard and the Cambridge Theological College, and served as pastor of a Unitarian church for several years.

Hymn Lyric Video (Embed video here)

O Holy Night
Words: Placide Cappeau, 1843
Music: Adolphe C. Adam, 1843

Verse 1
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 soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night divine, O night, O night divine!

Verse 2
Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here came the wise men from Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus in lowly manger,
In all our trials born to be our friend!
He knows our need – to our weakness is no stranger.
Behold your king; before Him lowly bend!
Behold your king; your king, before Him bend!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 our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name!
Christ is the Lord! O praise His name forever!
His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim!
His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim!