Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Minuit Chretiens ( Warning: Film Spoilers ahead)

Minuit, chrétiens, c'est l'heure solennelle,
Où l'Homme Dieu descendit jusqu'à nous
Pour effacer la tache originelle
Et de Son Père arrêter le courroux.

This Christmas Eve I went to my aunt & uncle's church; my uncle was playing the organ for their Christmas presentation. The message was good and interesting; their pastor preached on the origins and history of the famous French carol, "Minuit Chretiens", known here as "O Holy Night". Some of what he said seems to have been apocryphal, or at least, not in Wikepedia. It wasn't the first song to be sung on the air after the invention of AM radio, for example; I don't know if the church really rejected it, as was suggested tonight, after learning the composer was Jewish and that the man who wrote the lyrics had recently embraced Communism, but it fits. I have always liked this song. It's beautiful when sung by someone who can sing, and its message is very Christian. No jingle bells here.

Le monde entier tressaille d'espérance
En cette nuit qui lui donne un Sauveur.
Peuple à genoux, attends ta délivrance.
Noël, Noël, voici le Rédempteur,
Noël, Noël, voici le Rédempte

Literal translation:
The whole world waits in hope/during the night that gives it a Savior. People, down on your knees, await your deliverence//Noël, Noël, here is your redeemer/NoëlNoël, here is your redeemer.

Le Rédempteur a brisé toute entrave:
La terre est libre, et le ciel est ouvert.
Il voit un frère où n'était qu'un esclave,
L'amour unit ceux qu'enchaînait le fer.
Qui lui dira notre reconnaissance,
C'est pour nous tous qu'il naît, qu'il souffre et meurt.
Peuple debout! Chante ta délivrance,

The Redeemer has broken all obstacles:
The land is free, and Heaven is open.
He sees a brother where there was only a slave,
Love unites those who chained iron.
Who will tell him our gratitude,
This is for all of us he was born, he suffers and dies.
People standing! Sing your deliverance,
Noël, Noël, chantons le Rédempteur,
Noël, Noël, chantons le Rédempteur!

But that's not what I wanted to tell you.

I wanted to tell you about another song. It's a pretty famous Christmas carol, especially since it was featured in the animated film, "Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!". I believe it is also French in origin. I've always liked the song, until I heard it sung at the end of a film called "The Rapture."

"The Rapture" is a film from the '90s featuring a woman who is always in shampoo commercials, even now when she's 20 years older than when she was filmed here, and David Duchovny, famous for "The X Files". A correct theological rendering of the gospel, it is not. Or at least it doesn't seem so for much of the film. A bored operator, used to "swinging" with her boyfriend and likeminded couples, is taken in by a small group of nominal Christians, who follow the "prophecies" of a little boy.

 The operator becomes a true believer in what they're selling, and indeed much of what they're selling is innocuous. However, through confusion or misunderstanding when her small daughter tells her she wants to die to be with her late father, Ms. Shampoo agrees to kill her, believing, along with the little girl, that God is "telling' her to do it.   And she does so, almost immediately regretting this, to her minimal credit. Rather than assume she was actually not hearing the voice of God when she made this decision, she instead decides God, if he exists, is untrustworthy, and procedes to unleash her venom on herself and him.

Coincidentally, when the main character is in the inevitable jail cell, contemplating her sin and God's untrustworthiness, the Rapture occurs, hence the name. The video below is a clip from exactly that moment.

Although in this scene, Ms. Shampoo is not convinced that God is real, much less loving, it is a powerful view of exactly what has been taught regarding Christ's return. The chains are broken. And "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" seems like the perfect accompaniment, regardless of the date.

This is one of my favorite scenes in film.  I find it incredibly powerful.

Il voit un frère où n'était qu'un esclave,
L'amour unit ceux qu'enchaînait le fer.

(He sees a brother wheere once was just a slave/Love unites those in iron chains)

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