God's Roadmap

Now may the Lord Jesus Christ and our Father God, who loved us and in his wonderful grace gave us eternal comfort and a beautiful hope that cannot fail, encourage your hearts and inspire you with strength to always do and speak what is good and beautiful in his eyes (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 TPT).

Thursday, December 22, 2022

The History of O Holy Night and the Song's Effect on the Civil War


by Barbara Latta

Christmas Carols Part Three

O Holy Night was written in 1843 by Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure, a French wine maker. He was commissioned by a priest of the Catholic Church to write a poem for Christmas Mass. Cappeau’s friend, Adolphe Charles Adam, composed the music and the combination of their talents produced the worshipful rendition we have used for years to celebrate the day Christ was born.

Although Cappeau grew up in the Catholic Church he renounced his loyalty to the religion due to the church’s socialist allegiance. Because of Cappeau’s abdication, the Church rejected the song; however, the French people continued to sing this melody depicting the night Christ was born.

On a trip to France, American abolitionist John Sullivan Dwight heard the song and was moved by the powerful message in the verse about breaking the chains. He published the lyrics in one of his magazines and this song grew into an anthem of freedom during the Civil War.

In 1906, Reginald Fessenden, an associate of Thomas Edison, created a generator. He read the nativity story in the gospel of Luke and afterward played O Holy Night on his violin which made history by becoming the first song broadcast over radio waves.

These beautiful lyrics summarize Luke’s message about Christ’s birth. This song is another on my list of Christmas favorites.

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining,

It is the night of the dear Savior’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, Oh hear the angel voices!

O night divine! O night when Christ was born.

O night, O holy 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 no stranger!

Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!

Behold your King! Your King before Him 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, then ever ever praise we!

His pow’r and glory, evermore proclaim!

His pow’r and glory, evermore proclaim!

May your Christmas celebration be filled with the love of Christ as you worship the King of kings! He was born to break the chains and free us from the bondage of sin. 

Enjoy this arrangement of O Holy Night by David Phelps

Share your thoughts about this song or any of your favorites. 

The history of O Holy Night and and the Song's Effect on the Civil War (click to tweet)


  1. Loved the backstory Ms. Barbara. Thank you for sharing ma'am. Merry CHRISTmas ma'am.

    1. I thought the backstory to this amazing song was interesting too, J.D. Thanks for sharing. Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!

  2. I had no idea about this connection. The former music minister at my church used to share tidbits about the hymns he led. I miss him. The story behind the story is often a powerful testimony.

    1. I was surprised also, Candyce, when I read about this beautiful Christmas hymn. How appropriate for a song about our Savior breaking the chains of sin can be used to show us how he also breaks the chains of slavery. Thanks for sharing. Blessings!