Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sunday Sabbath Poetry: Placide Cappeau

Though a well-known classic, I did not know "O Holy Night" until recently introduced to it through Sufjan Stevens' wonderful version. I had always known the melody but never listened to the words.

And what words! Especially the last stanza, lines like "His law is love and his gospel is peace" and "Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother; / And in His name all oppression shall cease" are words we simply do not know how to sing today. So representative of the whole gospel -- social, political, spiritual -- I have been struck this month by the continuing power of these words. What a wonderful hymn.

- - - - - - -

O Holy Night
By Placide Cappeau

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,
'Til 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 angels' 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 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, Behold your King.

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.

- - - - - - -

Upon Moving to Atlanta, Georgia

You and I, we are wrapped
In flesh given hue by
One who came in colored
Flesh himself. I wonder
If, as they say, this will
Be discarded in the
End, for, as they say, we
Are all the same on the
Inside. I wonder if
It is incidental
Our fleshly tones, given
By one usually
Attentive to such things.
I say that these are our
Only real selves, and I
See you truly right now, in
This very moment. When
The end comes, glorious
New beginning, we will
Not discard, nor will we
Be discarded: only
Brighter, deeper, clearer.

1 comment:

  1. Have you read the literal translation of the Holy Night poem? Apparently, the version that we all sing in America is a not so loyal translation of the French, as was composed by the author. Beautiful melody though, I love the music.