Patterico's Pontifications


“For the Slave is Our Brother”

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 11:17 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here]

One of my favorite Christmas carols is “O Holy Night,” especially when sung simply (for instance, I tend to dislike operatic renditions).  But truthfully, I don’t think in my whole life I had more than the first verse.  At midnight mass at my wife’s church (she is Catholic, I am not), they sang the third stanza, which has these startling words:

Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;

And in His name all oppression shall cease.

And a quick lookup on Wikipedia reveals that this was carol adapted from a French song, with essentially similar lyrics, written in French in 1847, and released in English in 1855—just five years before the American Civil War.  It’s unclear how much this song was embraced in America prior to the Civil War, but certainly the goal of the writers was to condemn slavery, to their eternal credit.

Merry Christmas, ya’ll.  From my family and assuredly the Patterico Family as well.

Update: From “AD” in the comments, Celtic Woman sing the carol:

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

5 Responses to ““For the Slave is Our Brother””

  1. A wonderful video of “O Holy Night” by the Celtic Women, over at Powerline.

    AD-RtR/OS! (fb45ff)

  2. That was as incredible a performance as I have ever heard! And the other songs they perform on the YouTube were just as amazing!

    Merry Christmas! Semper Fi!!

    reff (b43ea5)

  3. I sent this clip to a bunch of people last night!

    daleyrocks (bfdac7)

  4. Get the Lou Rawls version (it’s on iTunes). He sings all of the verses and the song (though he changes the lyric to “everyone is our brother”) suits his voice very well. It’s my favorite version of the song. I like Jerry Vale’s version too, but he only sings the first verse.

    JVW (4463d3)

  5. Here are the lyrics as translated by John Sullivan Dwight

    O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
    It is the night of our dear Saviour’s birth.
    Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
    ‘Til He appear’d 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 angels’ voices!
    O night divine, O night when Christ was born;
    O night divine, O 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 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.

    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! O praise His Name forever,
    His power and glory evermore proclaim.
    His power and glory evermore proclaim.

    Alan Kellogg (9fb1c3)

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