Thursday, December 15, 2011

Lighting the way for the Christ Child

In the spirit of Christmas, I'd like to join with my fellow blogging friends to share a bit of caroling this season. Thank-you, footnoteMaven, for gathering us together once again!

My absolute favorite Christmas song is O Holy Night. The beautiful words and ascending phrases of the music stir my heart as I revel in the glory of Christmas. Many of my childhood Christmas Eves were spent savoring the holiness of this very special night. After the rest of the house had gone to sleep – or at least after I had gone to my own room – I would sit at my desk and look out the picture window overlooking our front yard.  It was the tradition in my neighborhood to set out luminaria - brown paper bags weighted down with sand and illuminated by a burning candle set inside.  My family and I took time each Christmas Eve afternoon to work alongside our neighbors shoveling the sand, filling the bags, and getting everything ready for sunset on this, the most joyful night of the year.  I didn't know it at the time, but this tradition had originated with Spanish immigrants to the New World.  It was a way that they, as Catholics, helped "light the way" for the Christ Child to visit their homes and hearts on this very special evening.

Each year, after my family and I had gone to Christmas Eve Mass, we would come home to light the luminaria, share a small dinner, and head to bed in anticipation of Christmas morning.  Once I was up in my room and ready for bed, I sat at my window and always watched for as long as I could, counting the candles that had gone out and savoring the glow and warmth of the peace that is Christmas Eve.

A few years ago I read and smiled at the words of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) about Christmas Eve, “Who can sleep on this night that God became man?” I still stay up through most of the night every Christmas Eve, savoring the quiet and sometimes listening to a rendition of O Holy Night as I enjoy the peace and anticipation of this beautiful evening when Mary brought forth her firstborn Son.

O Holy Night

Verse 1
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 world1 rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn;

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

Verse 2
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, He guardeth us from danger
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!

Verse 3
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 pow'r and glory evermore proclaim!
His pow'r and glory evermore proclaim!


  1. Beautiful post! I remember visiting my grandparents for Christmas, when their entire community would set out luminaria curbside on every road. It was indeed an inspiring sight.

  2. "O Holy Night" is my all time fav Christmas carol as well--there's just something about the words and music about that night Divine! :-) I had posted Jackie Evancho singing this song up on my blog, as well. :-) Growing up, I also loved to join my family in singing "Silent Night" in Hungarian. Now I wish I remembered how to sing all those words properly!!! :-} ***Love*** your photo of the luminarias! :-) God Bless! :-)

  3. What a cool post. I just saw this through Geneabloggers. I love the season of Advent.

    Regards, Jim
    Genealogy Blog at Hidden Genealogy Nuggets


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