And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
— Luke 2.4-7
Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure was a merchant of wines and spirits in a small town in France. He was also known for his poetry and literature. In December 1847, the priest of the parish that Cappeau sometimes attended asked him to write a poem for Christmas mass. On his way to Paris, as Cappeau was reading and meditating on Luke 2, he wrote the words of “Cantique de Noel” (“O Holy Night”). He decided, however, that his poem needed to be a song. Yet he was not musically inclined.
His friend, Aldophe Charles Adams, was an accomplished musician and composer. Although Adams was Jewish and did not celebrate Christmas, he was committed to his friendship with Cappeau. Having already written several operas and ballets, Adams composed an original score that was ready for production within three weeks. On Christmas Eve, it was performed at mass.
“Cantique de Noel” was initially accepted by many churches, but it was later denounced as “unfit for church services because of its lack of musical taste and its absence of the spirit of religion.”  In truth, it was discovered that Cappeau had joined the socialist movement and that Adams was Jewish. Although the church tried to bury the song, the people continued to sing it.
A decade later, John Sullivan Dwight, who was a graduate of Harvard College and Divinity School, a Unitarian minister, a writer, and an abolitionist, discovered “Cantique de Noel.” He read it in French and fell in love with its lyrics, especially, “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.” He published its English translation in Dwight’s Journal of Music, which popularized it in the United States.
The first audible sound ever heard on AM radio airways happened in 1906 on Christmas Eve. Reginald Fessenden—a young university professor and former chemist for Thomas Edison—used a new type of generator and spoke into a microphone. He read the birth of Christ from Luke’s account of the gospel. After finishing the recitation, he picked up his violin and played, “O Holy Night.” It became the first song ever sent through the airwaves. For the final verse, he set down his violin and sang the words.
O Holy Night (Listen: Chris Tomlin – 6:16)
O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Savior’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 angel 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, 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.