It all began, when Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure was asked to write a poem for Christmas mass by his parish priest. Honored to share his talents with the church, Placide Cappeau penned his “Cantique de Noel” while traveling to the capital city of France, in 1847.
Cappeau felt his poem would be better suited to music, so the poet sought help from one of his friends, Adolphe Charles Adams. Adams’ masterful talent and fame brought requests to write works for orchestras and ballets from all over the world. Their finished work was performed just three weeks later at a Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.
Initially accepted by many Catholic Christmas services, “Cantique de Noel” soon fell out of favor. It was banned in France for almost two decades after Placide Cappeau walked away from the church in favor of the socialist movement and church leaders discovered that Adolphe Adams was Jewish.
Fortunately, interest in this Christmas carol was renewed with John Sullivan Dwight — an American writer and Reginald Fessenden — a former chief chemist for Thomas Edison. Dwight introduced what he considered a wonderful Christmas song to America and Fessenden spoke into a microphone for the first time in history by reading the ‘Birth of Christ’ from the gospel of Luke, on Christmas Eve 1906. After finishing his reading, Fessenden picked up his violin and played “O Holy Night,” which became, the first song ever sent through radio airwaves.