XMAS Flash Mob @ the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Believe it or not, Sassy used to sing in the church choir! I was really good at picking up music and being able to sing it, and blending in with other voices. I started as a soprano in high school, was slotted as second soprano in the Glee Club in college, and an alto in church choir as a grown-up. I wonder… if I’d kept on singing – would I be a tenor or bass now?
I often got chosen for solos, even though I was an alto! A lot of years, there was no choir on Christmas Eve because people had their family celebrations that night, or had to travel to visit family. So the organist and choir director would look at me and pull out “O Holy Night.” I’d don the blue choir robe and yellow stole, stand at the front near the grand piano, and belt out the tune with all my heart.
Christmas 2006 I knew I was leaving the church. My life was headed in a different direction, toward another community project. I had a disagreement with the minister, who asked me to choose between church and my community project, sure in her narrow views that I would choose the church. So it was time to do other things. I was pretty sure it would be my last Christmas Eve service there for a long time. I stood looking out over the congregation I had cherished for years, the place where I got married, the safe place I had helped make for people of any sexual orientation, and wondered who would sing for them next year? Then took a deep breath and sang about the night of Jesus’ birth, my prayer that God would watch over us all as we went out separate ways.
Oh Holy Night
Lyrics by Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure
Music by Adolphe Charles Adams
Translated into English by John Sullivan Dwight
Oh 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
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
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine
Oh night, oh night divine
[Fall down on your knees]
(other verses sometimes added)
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
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
The lyrics of the old carol ‘O Holy Night’ were written in French by Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure in 1847. Cappeau was a wine seller by trade but was asked by the parish priest to write a poem for Christmas. He obliged and wrote the beautiful words of the hymn. He then realized that it should have music to accompany the words and he approached his friend Adolphe Charles Adams. He agreed and composed the tune we know. Adolphe had attended the Paris conservatoire and forged a brilliant career as a composer. It was translated into English in 1855 by John Sullivan Dwight from Boston, trained as a Unitarian minister, transcendentalist, editor of “Dwight’s Journal of Music” and America’s first influential classical music critic.
Enjoy this fun version from Boston!