Listen: O Holy Night

Read: James 2:18-27

Christmas is all about the gospel. The virgin, daughter of Eve, was foretold to bring forth Immanuel. The city of David was foretold to be the birthplace of the King. The Angels announced this gospel to the shepherds keeping watch over their flocks. “It is the night of our dear Saviour’s birth.” Can you picture it? The songwriter was correct in calling it a “holy night.” The night the glory of God was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger for us. The beauty of this thought is overwhelming.

This song was originally a French hymn, but as we know it today, this song was re-written by John Sullivan Dwight. In 1885, the United States of America had long lay in the sin and error of slavery. This Christmas hymn, now an American classic, was beautiful for its exaltation of the “new born King.” However, the hymn written wasn’t content to only declare the gospel but apply it as well. 

Dwight saw the issue of American slavery as a gospel issue. How should we worship the Prince of Peace in the church house and abuse “the slave (who) is our brother” in our own house? What hypocrisy we excuse in ourselves. This 19th Century Unitarian minister had a lot of theological problems, but we may thank him for this song.

Today, it is our responsibility to explore the practical implications of our faith. The gospel of Jesus Christ is not to be altered or ignored; but rather, it is meant to be believed and lived out. It is not enough for us to sing about the Saviour. We must also consider how we ought to live our daily lives in response to the immeasurable grace given to us. Let us be so pervasively influenced by the gospel that we can not comfortably continue to “lay in sin and error” by the grace of God.