Monday, December 24, 2007

"HOLY NIGHT", Batman!!

Dec. 24th, 2007

In this day and age I think we easily hear the same old Christmas songs on the radio over and over again (on stations in their 24-7 Christmas music modes)...and maybe tend to dismiss them as our parents or grandparents music.

Last night in my church's Christmas presentation though, the music director took the time to take one of those old tunes and make it relevent and come alive for me. So much so, I felt compelled to share this bit of history with all my brothers in the blog-o-sphere.

"Oh Holy Night", is a song that's been around since the late 1800's. It was originally written in poem form by Placide Cappeau, (who was a French wine merchant and poet and not a very devote church goer). Cappeau as asked by his local parish priest to write a Christmas poem that he could use in his sermon that week. The poem was later put to music by Adolphe Adam in 1847.

In 1855, it was translated into English by John Sullivan Dwight, (an Unitarian Minister and editor of Dwights Journal of Music). Because of it's reverent homage to a first person viewing with awe the birth of Jesus, and it's verses concerning freedom from slavery and opression it became widely popular and an instant classic in the civil war era.

On December 24th, 1906, Reginald Fressendon, broadcast the first AM radio program, during which he played "Oh Holy Night" on the violin....making it possibly the first piece of music ever broadcast on the radio?!

It's rumored that on a Christmas eve during the ongoing trench warfare of World War one in Europe, a French solider arose from his trench and began to sing the hymm loudly over the battlefield in his native French language. In reponse a German soldier also stood up and began to sing the hymm in German. Soon the whole battlefield was filled with the sound of "Oh Holy Night"....and for the next 24 hours of Christmas day, not a shot was fired and there was peace on the battle fields in honor of the birth of Christ.

So next time you're singing this old tune in church, with your kids, your friends or along with the radio...remember it's significance and revel in the holy spirit that inhabits both its creation and development in our society.

May you all have a blessed Christmas celebration.

RJ luedke

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