O Holy Night (Minuit, Chretiens)

O, holy night, it is a solemn hour,
When God-incarnate descended to man.
Taking the stain, erasing sin’s dark power,
Ending the wrath of His Father’s commands.
The whole earth waits, with hope and joy she quivers,
For on this night, our Savior, Christ, is seen!
Fall on your knees! Give heed to your Deliverer!
Noel! Noel! See the Man who would redeem.
Noel! Noel! See the Man who would redeem.

Light of our faith, and ardency of pining,
Has guided us to His natal retreat.
As when of old, the star in brilliance shining,
Summoned the kings from their home in the east.
The King of kings born humbly in a manger,
O, kings of earth, pride not then in your means!
Pride is the sin which brought God’s holy anger!
Come bow on your face, before He who redeemed.
Come bow on your face, before He who redeemed.

Jesus redeemed us from sin which all men smothers,
The earth is free, heaven’s doors open wide.
We once were slaves, but He calls us ‘brothers,’
And those He loves, never sword can divide!
So who declares our praise to Him, our reverence?
For us His birth, His death has set us free!
Christians, arise! And sing of your deliverance!
Noel! Noel! Honor Him who us redeemed.
Noel! Noel! Honor Him who us redeemed.

NOTES: This is a translation from Placide Cappeau’s original French poem ‘Minuit Chretiens’ (Or ‘Cantique de Noel’). One of the things that struck me when I first ran across Cappeau’s poem was how gospel focused it was — as opposed to the version of ‘O Holy Night’ (translated by John Sullivan Dwight) that we all sing at Christmas. I’d always liked the tune of ‘O Holy Night,’ but dismissed the song itself as a cheesy, fluffy Christmas song — with some lines that were border-line heretical! What I didn’t realize is that John Sullivan Dwight purposefully removed all references to Jesus’ divinity, and mankind’s sinfulness.

Dwight was a Unitarian, and a Transcendentalist. In other words, he believed that people were basically good, that there was no ultimate judgement for sin, and that Jesus was not God, but no more than an example of how to be a nice person. Dwight took this beautiful, gospel centered song — so rich with theology — and turned it into a feel-good, do-gooder’s song. To Dwight, the significance of Christmas was that ‘The soul found its worth,’ and that ‘the slave is our brother.’ In warping the song like this, he missed the true message of Christmas: Jesus came to redeem us from our sins — sins which justly condemned us to death and hell, according to God’s law. Though we were slaves to sin, God adopted us as co-heirs with Christ.

Christmas, then is not simply a time to think happy thoughts and be nice to each other. Christmas is a time to marvel at the awesome wonder of the incarnate God, who “Did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:5-10

No Other (Isaiah 41)

CHORUS:
All praise belongs to Jesus Christ,
Who only brings this dead earth to life.
He spoke and it was so,
He came so we might know.
Let us kneel before the throne of Jesus Christ.

No other can compare unto our Lord and Savior.
All of history at His command.
He raises mighty kings,
And dries the richest streams.
All-sovereign over every work of man.

No other can compare, no god can stand before Him;
Only He is worthy of our praise.
Yet we turn ourselves away,
To idols that we have made,
Yet they pale at but a glance at Jesus’ face.

No other can compare, no other came to save us.
Never will He let his children go.
Now He has set us free,
His is the victory
He washes all our sins as white as snow.

High Priestly Praise (Hebrews 4:14-5:3)

Sing praise to God, you sons of men!
For this High Priest whom you are given,
Who makes atonement for your sin,
For with our trials He has striven.
In all our passions He was caught,
With all temptations He has fought,
And yet He gained the victory!

So come before the throne of grace,
And look for comfort in no other.
With confidence before His face,
Who’s not ashamed to call you brother.
And there His mercy you’ll receive,
And you’ll find grace when you believe,
And join Him in His victory!

For Christ as priest was made a man,
To stand before God’s holy anger.
He shed His blood – the Law’s demand,
And saved us from damnation’s danger.
And He is gentle when we err,
For He was weak when on the earth,
Yet brought us into victory!

You ignorant, come now be wise!
You errant give to Him allegiance!
And see this living sacrifice,
Who overcame man’s fallen weakness.
And once for all He paid the price,
Perfection which need not die twice,
But won eternal victory!