When Christmas Eve finally arrives, there is no carol more important, in my opinion at least, than O Holy Night. Quite frankly I believe there is no need to preach as long as that song is sung with the third verse being the high note (and I mean that quite literally).
In 1843, Placide Cappeau wrote a Christmas poem to commemorate the renovation of his hometown church’s organ in the south of France. Within the year, Adolphe Adam set the poem to music and the following Christmas, the song premiered with an operatic soprano soloing in the same church.
It took less than ten years for an American named John Sullivan Dwight, a Unitarian minister, to write the English version in 1855. He specifically penned the third verse to echo the call he felt in his own life to the abolitionist movement. The verse has been included or not included in hymnals and popular versions of the song for this reason, depending on the denomination and artist (as well as the time period and region).
The verse reads: 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, then ever, ever praise we! His power and glory evermore proclaim! His power and glory evermore proclaim!
There is no better summary of who our God, our Lord is. And no more important message to impart was we gather to celebrate God coming to live among us. For that power is a Love more powerful than this world can comprehend.
May we find it in our midst this Christmastide and always.