Christmas, 2015, I wrote this post amidst a sea of unrest, politically and otherwise. In light of tragic events in our country and around the world, I find myself reflecting on it again this holiday season.
There has been a lot of swirling conversation going on around me, both physically and virtually, about what has gone on in the world around us…Syria, San Bernardino, Orlando, Jerry Falwell, Trump, Sexual Scandal In Hollywood and on Capitol Hill, Abuse of all kinds, terrorism…and on and on. This mounting and culmination of all these events and occurrences…like you, I’ve had enough and I needed a moment to just sit, be, listen and be quiet…in the quiet, I was overcome by the lyrics of one of the world’s most beloved Christmas Carols…and I had to write a bit about it. A Carol of Adolphe Adam and Placide Cappeau, originally called Cantique de Noel, or “Oh Holy Night.”
From the beginning, he was destined to follow his father in the family business (vinification and cooperage); but after an accident, he turned to the life of an academic. The accident occurred when he was eight years old, while “playing” with his friend Brignon. The young Brignon was handling a gun and shot Cappeau in the hand. This led to the young Cappeau having to undergo an amputation of his hand. Thanks to the financial support from Brignon who supplied half of tuition, Cappeau was able to attend a town school and was accepted into the Collège Royal d’Avignon. While there, in spite of his disability, he was awarded the first prize in drawing in 1825.
After studying in Nîmes, where he received a baccalauréat littéraire (A level in literature), he studied law in Paris and was awarded a license to practice law in 1831.
Following in his father’s footsteps, to an extent, he became a merchant of wines and spirits. However, his focus in life was literature.
He is quoted as saying he wrote the poem “Minuit Chrétien” (O Holy Night) in a stagecoach on his way to Paris, between Mâcon and Dijon. Despite Adolphe Adam calling his tune “la Marseillaise religieuse” (The religious Marseillaise), Cappeau held often outspoken socialist and anti-clerical (secular) views. (hymnary.org)
The third verse of “Oh Holy Night” speaks of a world in which those who claim to follow Jesus are living out he calls all of his followers to in this subversive Gospel…
That Gospel is deeply rooted in Love of God and Love of Others…and so many claim the first part of that Call…the part about loving God. But the back half…well, I’m afraid some have given Christ a bad name in how we’ve lived that out in recent days, weeks and months…that love of “others” is not one we can or should place provisions or privileges on…it’s an unconditional love for all of our brothers and sisters…
“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!”
May we help bring this verse to a reality…may Life on earth come increasingly as it is in Heaven.
Come, Lord Jesus!