One of the things that makes me crazy when I read through my real-me Facebook feed — which is primarily populated by liberals, given my West Coast upbringing and residence — is the constant insistence that Christianity and Islam are basically the same, with each being equally likely to result in religious terrorism. The fact that Christians in the West abandoned religious wars more than 400 years ago doesn’t bother these moral relativists. All religions are equal and all religions are, at heart, bad.
That’s the background to my listening to Josh Groban’s O, Holy Night and really paying attention, not just to his lovely voice and the beautiful melody, but to the words themselves. The words that Groban sings in this transcendent Christmas hymn are an abridged, slightly modified version of the lyrics that John Sullivan Dwight, a Unitarian minister, wrote in 1855. Dwight’s words, in turn, are a rough translation of the original French verse, Cantique de Noël, which dates back to 1847. In other words, they are the distillation of Christianity after the Dark Ages, after the Middle Ages, after the Crusades, after the Renaissance, after the Great Awakening, and after the Enlightenment. They are the distillation of the Christian experience in Europe and America.
I know I posted this video the other day, but let me post it again today, with special attention to the lyrics: