O Holy Night - Lyrics, Hymn Meaning and Story (2024)

O Holy Night Lyrics

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 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.

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 come the wise men from the 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 weaknesses no stranger,
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King, Before Him lowly bend!

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 power and glory evermore proclaim.
His power and glory evermore proclaim.

SongwritersPlacide Cappeau, Adolphe Adam, John Sullivan DwightPublished byPublic Domain

The Story Behind O Holy Night

O Holy Night was originally written by poet and author Placide Cappeau in 1843 in southern France. The music for the song was composed by the prolific French composer and music critic Adolphe Adam, and in 1855, the song was translated from French to English by John Sullivan Dwight.

Near the end of 1843, a church organ in southern France was renovated. Even though Cappeau showed no interest in religion, he was asked by the parish priest to write a Christmas poem, which he did. Shortly thereafter, Adam wrote the music, and the song was first performed in 1857.

O Holy Night is one of the most well-known Christmas carols reflecting on Jesus' birth and the redemption of humanity.

Biblical Inspiration of O Holy Night Lyrics

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining, It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth.

"And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night." (Luke 2:8)

Long lay the world in sin and error pining. ’Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.

"And to Adam he said, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, 'You shall not eat of it,' cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field." (Genesis 3:17-18)

A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

"For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hopethat the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God." (Romans 8:19-21)

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

"So that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:10-11)

Truly He taught us to love one another, His law is love and His gospel is peace.

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:34-35)

Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother. And in his name all oppression shall cease.

"No longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother--especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord."(Philemon 1:16)

Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, With all our hearts we praise His holy name.

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God." (Colossians 3:16)

Our Favorite Performance of "O Holy Night"

Collection of Popular Christmas Hymns and Carols:

O Holy Night - Lyrics, Hymn Meaning and Story (2024)


What is the story behind Oh Holy Night? ›

In the Franco-Prussian War of 1871, a French soldier started singing “O Holy Night” on Christmas Eve. This event took place in the middle of a fight when the soldier suddenly stood up in his trench and faced the perplexed Germans unarmed and broke out into the song.

Why is "O'Holy Night" not in the Methodist hymnal? ›

That's because the lyrics to this popular Christmas Carol were written by Placide Cappeau, an atheist. The melody was later composed by Adolphe Adams, a Jew. Needless to say, neither were regulars at church.

Why did Placide Cappeau write "O'Holy Night"? ›

The words to “ O Holy Night” were written in 1843 by Placide Cappeau, a French wine merchant and poet. Although he was never particularly religious, Cappeau was asked by a local parish priest to write a Christmas poem to celebrate the recent renovation of the church organ in his hometown.

What does pining mean in Oh Holy Night? ›

And then there's the word pining.

We don't use the word pining much, but it means reaching or yearning.

What is a fact about O Holy Night? ›

Originally based on a French-language poem written in 1843 by poet Placide Cappeau, it was set to music by composer Adolphe Adam in 1847. The English version, with small changes to the initial melody, is by John Sullivan Dwight.

Where did the song Holy Holy Holy come from? ›

History. The hymn was written in the early 1800s during Heber's time as vicar (1807–1823) in Hodnet, Shropshire, England, a period in which the author was prolific, writing more than 100 hymns, many having survived to modern times.

Is O Holy Night written by an atheist? ›

“O Holy Night” is the product of circ*mstance in southern France. In the medieval town of Requemaure in 1843, the parish priest of the local church wanted to commemorate the renovations to the church organ. This led him to poet and wine merchant Placide Cappeau, a man with little to no interest in religion.

What is the oldest Christmas song? ›

Reportedly, one of the first known Christmas hymns is "Jesus Refulsit Omnium" ("Jesus, Light of All the Nations"), written by St. Hilary of Poitier in the fourth century.

What is the story behind Silent Night? ›

"Silent Night" is about a calm and bright silent night, and the wonder of a tender and mild newborn child, words written in 1816 by a young priest in Austria, Joseph Mohr, not long after the Napoleonic wars had taken their toll.

What does "the soul felt it's worth" mean? ›

Our souls are longing to feel their worth. Prior to the arrival of the infant King in Bethlehem, the world waited, pined, engulfed in their sin and their error. And it was only through His birth, death and resurrection that our souls would experience their true value, their full worth.

What does the sting of sin mean? ›

We are in training to be in God's image, and God does not sin. The term “sting” illustrates what is painful about sin. The most painful element involved in sin is death, and with death, all hope is lost. Sin kills.

What does the spirit and the bride say come mean? ›

It is a call to upward growth and maturity. The call of the Spirit and the bride is a call to the maturity of grace, to the fullness of excellence and hospitality, to the grandeur of salvation itself.

What is the high note in O Holy Night? ›

Sure, you can pretty much start this song in whatever key you want, but keep in mind that it spans over an octave and a half, so if G3 is the lowest note you can hit, you're looking at D6 as your high note.

What is the story behind the song O come to the altar? ›

As we listen to the words of "Oh Come to the Altar," we are encouraged to bring our sins, our burdens, and our brokenness to the foot of the cross, where Jesus offers us forgiveness, redemption, and healing. The lyrics serve as a reminder that no one is too far gone or beyond the reach of God's grace.


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