Christmas Eve is the most distinctive night of the year. As an adult the frisson comes from the commemoration of Verbum caro factum est: And the Word was made flesh. In simplest terms, the creator of life sent his son to help people cope with the painful difficulties of being human. Which is why it’s so horrific that the Church that Jesus founded on St. Peter suffers from all the greatest of the human difficulties: arrogance, ignorance, sexual perversion, aggression.
G. K. Chesterton’s quip— “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult, and not tried”— sadly refers to the Church in many was as well as to individuals.
But on Christmas Eve, the sense of hope and optimism blinds all the darkness. And one hymn captures all the beauty and life we are celebrating, the exquisite O Holy Night: a poem by a French wine merchant/poet, set to music by a French composer, translated for the English-speaking world for the ages by a Unitarian minister.
The entire poem is lovely, but these lines particularly are what I hold on to. The wine merchant really understood what it’s all about..
It is the night of our death Savior’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
'Til He appear'd and the soul felt its worth
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.
Celine Dion has a very beautiful performance.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!