Tag Archives: Christmas Eve

O Holy Night – A Christmas Carol

Christmas Eve - we are closed today — ExplorationWorks

“O Holy Night” (also known as “Cantique de Noël”) is a well-known Christmas carol. 

Back in 1843, in a small French town, Roquemaure, a man named Placide Cappeau was known more for his talent at writing poetry. A priest asked him to write a poem for Christmas Mass. He took his request seriously. Placide Cappeau began thinking about the birth of Jesus. With that inspiration, he wrote “Cantique de Noel.”

Placide was so pleased with how the poem came out that he decided it needed to be a song. Since he was a poet but not a musician, he turned to a friend, Adolphe Charles Adams, to see if he would set his poem to music. Adolphe was a famous classical musician who had composed many works all around the world, but he agreed to come up with music for his friend’s poem.

In 1843 or 1847, according to two different sources, he composed music to go with the beautiful words, and the song was performed a few weeks later at a Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.

The song was premiered in Roquemaure in 1847 by the opera singer, Emily Laurey.

In 1855, an American writer, John Sullivan Dwight, saw something in the song that moved him beyond the story of the birth of Christ. An abolitionist, Dwight strongly identified with the lines of the third verse: “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.” This verse mirrored Dwight’s view of slavery in the South. He published his English translation of “O Holy Night” in his magazine, and the song quickly found favor in America, especially in the North, during the Civil War.

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Our church performed the Christmas Concert one year. “O Holy Night” was one of the songs at the concert. I was privileged to sing this piece. As part of the concert, I sang the first verse of the song. A friend sent me the mp3 of the music and I made it into a video.

Notes:

I want to thank Robbie Cheadle, who inspired me to make this video. When I posted the information about my Messiah performance last year, she mentioned she would like to hear me sing.

I also want to thank Diane Wallace Peach, who created the trailer for my poetry book, Song of Heartstrings: Poems of Gratitude and Beatitude. She inspired me to use PowerPoint to create to presentation and insert the music to create this video.

merry christmas and happy new year 2019 | Seni

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Silent Night – The Composition, The Story of WWI, and The Choir

Silent Night is one of my favorite Christmas Carols. I would like to review some of the stories behind this 202 years old popular Christmas music.

The Composition

Chapel2.jpg
The Silent Night Chapel is located in Oberndorf dei Salzburg, Austria, where the song was first performed

“Silent Night” (German: Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht) is a popular Christmas Carol. The lyrics were written by Joseph Mohr in Salzburg, Austria. The melody was composed by Franz Xaver Gruber, schoolmaster and organist in the nearby village of Arnsdorf.

Before Christmas Eve, Mohr brought the words to Gruber and asked him to compose a melody and guitar accompaniment. The first performance of the carol was on December 24, 1818, in the Christmas Eve mass.

Over the years, because the original manuscript had been lost, Mohr’s name was forgotten and although Gruber was known to be the composer, many people assumed the melody was composed by a famous composer, and it was variously attributed to Haydn, Mozart, or Beethoven. However, a manuscript was discovered in 1995 in Mohr’s handwriting and dated by researchers as c. 1820. It states that Mohr wrote the words in 1816 when he was assigned to a pilgrim church in Mariapfarr, Austria, and shows that the music was composed by Gruber in 1818. This is the earliest manuscript that exists and the only one in Mohr’s handwriting. (Source)

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The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce of 1914 by Naina Bajekal

German and British troops celebrating Christmas together during a temporary cessation of WWI hostilities known as the Christmas Truce.
German and British troops celebrating Christmas together during a temporary cessation of WWI hostilities known as the Christmas Truce. Mansell—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

In 1914, just a few months into a war, Pope Benedict XV, who took office that September, had originally called for a Christmas truce, an idea that was officially rejected. Yet it seems the sheer misery of daily life in the cold, wet, dull trenches was enough to motivate troops to initiate the truce on their own…

It’s hard to pin down exactly what happened. A huge range of differing oral accounts, diary entries and letters home from those who took part make it virtually impossible to speak of a “typical” Christmas truce as it took place across the Western front… Nevertheless, some two-thirds of troops — about 100,000 people — are believed to have participated in the legendary truce…

Most accounts suggest the truce began with carol singing from the trenches on Christmas Eve, “a beautiful moonlit night, frost on the ground, white almost everywhere”, as Pvt. Albert Moren of the Second Queens Regiment recalled. Graham Williams of the Fifth London Rifle Brigade described it in even greater detail:

“First the Germans would sing one of their carols and then we would sing one of ours, until when we started up ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful’ the Germans immediately joined in singing the same hymn to the Latin words Adeste Fideles. And I thought, well, this is really a most extraordinary thing ­– two nations both singing the same carol in the middle of a war.”

The next morning, in some places, German soldiers emerged from their trenches, calling out “Merry Christmas” in English. Allied soldiers came out warily to greet them. In others, Germans held up signs reading “You no shoot, we no shoot.” Over the course of the day, troops exchanged gifts of cigarettes, food, buttons, and hats. The Christmas truce also allowed both sides to finally bury their dead comrades, whose bodies had lain for weeks on “no man’s land,” the ground between opposing trenches.

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I chose this arrangement of Silent Night performed by the Winchester Cathedral Choir on December 27, 2010

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