O Holy Night: Transformed from Empty to Worthy through Christ

O Holy Night! It is the night of our dear Savior's birth.It wasn’t Christmas until Nell Thomas sang O Holy Night.

Nell was a gifted choir member whose annual solo completed my mother’s Christmas. Her heartfelt delivery drew us into the sacred starry night. Her powerful crescendo due a King fell away to the hush granted a newborn. The only possible response was worship.

Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!

I only remember these two lines which I thought repeated after every verse. Before today, if you asked me to sing a verse or two, I’d only add a word or phrase to my humming before breaking into Fall on your knees!

For me, the power was in the meaningful performance.

Yet the lyrics of O Holy Night hold biblical truth that accurately describes the human condition and what Jesus has done for us.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.

Many of us experience emptiness, sensing that there’s more to life than the world provides. We pine for meaning, purpose, love and acceptance, but often look in the wrong places… Until we realize what Jesus’ birth means for us.

Philippians 2:6-7 Jesus, being in very  nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very  nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.Christ demonstrates God’s love by becoming needy and weak like us so that we might be transformed into His image with ever increasing glory (2 Corinthians 3:18). The eternal God lowered Himself to lift us into meaningful life. Who does this? It can only be love.

When we accept and trust the magnitude of God’s love, our soul feels worthy.

I believed it: God loved us so much that He sent Jesus to live and die to forgive my sins (John 3:16). I knew the story well.

But I didn’t feel worthy.

I thought my life choices disqualified me until I could be good enough for long enough. But how much is enough? I kept asking “Do you love me yet?” I didn’t understand that grace is a gift of God – not acquired by works (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Exodus 25:8 Have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell with them.Then I studied the Bible as a whole and pieced together the snippets I’d learned in Sunday sermons and daily devotions. This front-to-back Bible study revealed one continuous theme carried through books written by many authors over many generations: God loves His creatures and wants to dwell with us in relationship.

The continuity of the Bible, which was often maintained miraculously, conflicted with my good-enough-yet queries.

  • Only God could have compiled this cohesive story, so…
  • It’s a true story about real events and real people. If true, then…
  • What the Bible teaches is True, capital T, so…
  • I’m worthy of His love even though I can’t be good.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8

In fact, I’m incapable of being good in my own strength. And boy was I weary of trying and failing to be good. Recognizing the Truth of Jesus was most certainly a new and glorious turning point in my life.

A thrill of hope- the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!

O Holy Night! His law is love and his gospel is peace.The final verse summarizes Jesus’ teaching to love the Lord with all your heart, soul and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-40).

Truly he taught us to love one another;
His law is love and his gospel is peace.

Furthermore, the hymn proclaims the remarkable unity intended among believers regardless of race, ethnicity, economic class, or gender. In Christ Jesus we are all children of God through faith.. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male or female, for we are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26-28). Our equality as God’s children loving one another as family preempts abuse and oppression. We’re all on the same team working toward the same goal.

Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother,
And in his name all oppression shall cease.

As we sing this Christmas season, let’s bow and worship before the One who offers such great love. Praise His name forever!

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!

Your turn:

  • Pause from Christmas preparations to consider the immense love wrapped in swaddling cloths.
  • Worship the newborn King on your knees or with arms raised high.
  • Share in the comments how God’s love has transformed you from empty to worthy.

By the way, Nell sings with Jesus now so Carrie Underwood’s version completes my Christmas.

We’ve found biblical meaning in two other Christmas songs:
O Come, O Come Immanuel and
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!

O Holy Night!
Translator: John S. Dwight; Author: Placide Chappeau 1847

O holy night! the stars are brightly shining;
It is the night of the 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! O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night, O holy night, O night divine!

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 came the Wise Men from Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus in lowly manger,
In all our trials born to be our Friend.

He knows our need— to our weakness is no stranger.
Behold your King, before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King, before Him lowly bend!

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.

Christ is the Lord! His name forever praise we!
Noel! Noel! O night, O night divine!
Noel! Noel! O night, O holy night!

#seedsofscripture #Luke1 #christmashymn #christmashymns #oholynight #carrieunderwood #galatians3 #matthew22 #romans5 #ephesians2 #jesusislove

1 Comment

  1. Annie Yorty on December 28, 2023 at 12:34 AM

    This rich hymn is one of my all-time favorites for Christmas, Cathy. Thank you for sharing how it applies to our lives today.

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