There are several traditional Christmas carols or hymns which pack an emotional punch for me. None more so than “O’ Holy Night.” To me, the combination of the vaguely melancholic melody and passionate lyrics are extraordinarily powerful and rarely fail to bring me to tears.

The opening lines set the tone beautifully.

O holy night the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Saviour’s birth

We’re reminded not only why we need a Saviour but how this wondrous gift reveals just how much we are loved.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth

We share our joy and gratitude for His arrival and His grace.

A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks
A new and glorious morn

And we are stunned at the enormity of it all.

Fall on your knees
O hear the angel voices
O night divine
O night when Christ was born

As we sang this song in church this morning, I felt the familiar tugging in my heart and the tears welling up. I suddenly recalled the times in my life when I’ve fallen to my knees: As a young adult, when poor decisions and bad habits left me feeling ashamed and desperate for a change; as a young wife, newly pregnant, when I watched planes and towers brought down and thousands of my fellow citizens perish; as the mother of a very sick newborn, when I learned her lung had collapsed and she’d likely be transferred to a children’s hospital; as a single mom, feeling lost and uncertain, when I felt my recently deceased grandmother place her hand on my shoulder and whisper reassuringly that everything was going to be alright; as a heartbroken fool, when I realized life was never going to be a fairy tale. Each of these moments found me literally brought-to-my-knees low, whether it be in fear, shame, or awe.

Yet, in each of those moments, somehow I also knew — felt it to my core — that God was with me. That, no matter how low I felt right then, I was forgiven, I was not alone, and I was loved.

During this morning’s service, our pastor told the Christmas story, focusing on the peace for which we all long, and which Christ’s arrival promises.  His words struck home — particularly when he reminded us:

You are loved by the God of the universe. And it’s all yours – if you’ll have it.

When I hear the music build, and the voices — of an artist, of my fellow churchgoers, of angels — call on me to fall on my knees, I am humbled and overwhelmed. I am at once brought low and lifted up. And I am moved, beyond words, at the amazing gift we have been given.

Fall on your knees
O hear the angel voices
O night divine
O night when Christ was born
O night divine
O night divine