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The Story Behind the Song: O Holy Night

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In 1847, the French song “Cantique de Noel” was co-written by a Jewish composer named Adolphe Adam.

A decade later, the American minister John Sullivan Dwight translated the lyrics into English.

As an abolitionist, Dwight was struck by the lyrics of the second verse. “Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother…  And in his name, all oppression shall cease.”

Almost 60 years later, on Christmas Eve in 1906, the Canadian inventor Reginald Fessenden created the world’s first radio broadcast, mostly heard by radio operators and cargo ships in the Atlantic.

Fessenden read the story of the nativity from the gospel of Luke and played “O Holy Night” on his violin, making it the first Christmas song ever broadcast on the radio.

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