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O Holy Night




At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises:

Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.
Luke 2: 13-14

Imagine this: it’s Christmas Eve in 1906 in a small town outside of Boston, Massachusetts.

The Canadian-American engineer Reginald Fessenden is sitting at one of his prized inventions: an electric device that can transmit sound through radio waves. He presses a thumb against his short, dark beard — thinking of a song — and then readjusts his thin, circular spectacles.

Up until this point in history, the primary use of radio wave communication was for Morse Code: a language of monotone pulses. For several years, Reginald had been employed by various companies to develop this new radio technology, including working directly for Thomas Edison at his laboratory in New Jersey. Although he looked up to Edison, Reginald was his own kind of genius, with over 500 patents to his name.

It’s on this frozen night in December that Reginald decides to try something that no one has ever done before a radio broadcast of live music. Nearby is a Bible, opened up to the Gospel of Luke. Reginald looks at it and sees the words, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Then he picks up his violin, leans towards the transmitter, and begins to play a song. The melody of “O Holy Night” stirs the air, resounding in his ears and in the ears of those many, many miles away. For those who were listening — hearing live music broadcast for the very first time in human existence — it was as if the heavens had filled with angels once more: a song of praise appearing out of nothing.

For both the ancient shepherds in the fields and the radio-listeners of 1906, the Christmas anthem arrived in a similar fashion: suddenly and splendidly. The glory of God requires no prelude, no pre-show. It moves invisibly across the earth, awakening the souls of men and women who call upon His name. If only we would tune our hearts, we might hear the song of His majesty — carrying on the waves of radio, the waves of light, the waves of history — a song that arrived on Christmas: the night divine, the night when Christ was born.


O holy night, the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
‘Til 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
O hear the angels’ voices
O night divine
O night when Christ was born
O night divine
O night
O night divine

Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace
Chains He shall 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

Fall on your knees
O hear the angels’ voices
O night divine
O night when Christ was born
O night divine
O night, O holy night

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Scripture References

  • Luke 2:13-14