“A Thrill of Hope” Dec. 2, 2018

Posted by on Dec 3, 2018 in Sermon Archives

“A Thrill of Hope” Jeremiah 33:14-16 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13 Luke 21:25-36   O holy night! The stars are brightly shining, It is the night of our dear Saviour’s birth. Long lay the world in sin and error pining, Till He appear’d 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;             I believe, whether we care to admit it or not, that every one of us has a favorite Christmas carol or hymn or song. “O Holy Night” has got to be mine. But you know, for the life of me, I can’t explain why. It has all the ingredients that I usually try to avoid. It’s drippy and schmaltzy with old world lyrics sang to a grandiose melody that can only be pulled off by the likes of Pavarotti or Josh Groban. But I can’t help it, it gets me every time. So I set out to understand why; what is it about “O Holy Night” that touches folks on such a deep and personal level? Come to find out, the carol we know as “O Holy Night” started out as a poem. You see, in the mid 1800’s, the church in the little town of Roquemaure, France had just renovated their organ and to celebrate this glorious event, the parish priest asked a local wine merchant and poet by the name of Placide Cappeau to write a Christmas poem. Evidently, that’s how things were done in those days – you tune the piano, you write a song. Now at this point, I was totally intrigued especially after learning that our local wine merchant and occasional poet had never shown any interest in religion at all, as far as anyone could tell. But he agreed to write this poem to celebrate the newly renovated organ and it wasn’t long before the poem “Minuit Chretiens” or Midnight Christians was set to music by a certain Adolphe Adam. It was premiered in little Roquemaure in 1847 by the opera singer Emily Laurey and the rest is, as they say, history. It was later in 1855 that the Unitarian minister John Sullivan Dwight translated the song into the English lyrics that we know today. How about that; and just think – it all started because the organ at the church broke down. Now ordinarily, if you want to tarnish something beautiful – take the shine off the apple, if you will – the best way to do that is to study it to death: to analyze and criticize and cauterize until the magic just disappears. And I thought that would be the case with the wine merchant and never religious poet from Roquemaure. I thought for sure that the more...

Read More »