I have a friend in Switzerland who likes to say that the only time you can really sing O Come all ye Faithful, is Christmas morning. It’s the ‘born this happy morning’ bit! You can hardly sing that two Sundays before Christmas! Mind you, I have heard a version of it (whose wording escapes me for the moment) that does away with such a specific time reference so you can sing it whenever you want.
PS – I’ve heard via Twitter from a Church of Ireland minister in County Fermanagh whose “hymnal has 2 versions 7a: Yea Lord we greet thee born this happy morning 7b: Yea Lord we bless thee born for our salvation”.
Anyway, given that the announcement was made to shepherds who were keeping an eye on their flocks at night, it looks as though Jesus was born at night. Which puts Silent Night, or O Holy Night ahead of O Come all ye Faithful, at least in terms of getting the time right!
Which means that there is something special about a Christmas Eve church service, when it’s dark, but the darkness is punctured by candle-lights. Granted they are not as powerful as the glory that the shepherds saw, but they convey the symbolism of the Light that has come to shine in the darkness.
If you prefer to do all your celebrating on Christmas morning – not to worry.
Meantime, enjoy this version of O Holy Night from Sylvia Burnside with the New Irish Orchestra.