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Christmas Carols as Resistance Literature

Richard Beck of Experimental Theology revives the historical meaning of two great Christmas carols, beginning with “O Holy Night”:

Recall that the song and the French poem were written in 1847. The English version was written in 1855, six years before the American Civil War and eight years before the Emancipation Proclamation. O Holy Night, it turns out, was a song of political resistance and protest. Imagine Americans singing in the years leading up to the Civil War the lyrics Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother; And in His name all oppression shall cease.

“O Holy Night” has always been one of my favorites.