So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. – Luke 2:4-7
Most of us grew up singing this Christmas carol. It’s like saying the pledge of allegiance or reciting Scripture we’ve learned by heart. The lyrics just roll off the tongue with little or no thought. Today I want to make you think about the words of this old carol. Why was “Silent Night” written? Why not “Bright Night” – although early in the song it’s mentioned that all is calm and all is… bright.
On Christmas Eve, 1818, “Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht” was heard for the first time in a village church in Oberndorf, Austria. The voices of the assistant pastor, Father Joseph Mohr, and the choir director Franz Xaver Gruber, rang through the church accompanied by Father Mohr’s guitar. All the congregation at that Midnight Mass in St. Nicholas Church listened intently.
On all six verses, the choir repeated the last two lines in four-part harmony. A carol was launched that would soar into the hearts of folks throughout the world. It’s been translated into hundreds of languages and is sung by untold millions every Christmas from small chapels to great cathedrals around the world.
Keep in mind that this simple tune was written to be played on a guitar. The effect is so profound because of its simplicity. It’s as though as lullaby is being sung – and what better accompaniment than a guitar?
Often our Lord speaks to the human heart in a whisper. Why are we so surprised when it is the soft and simple song that penetrates a hard heart? Christmas softens most hearts by its very nature because what’s more precious than a baby? Of course, Christ was not just any child, but He did enter into our world in the same way we as humans do. It’s the first small bit of common ground He established in order to become a part of humanity.
When I think of what He left behind to begin His mission, I’m so very thankful He decided to follow through… from cradle to glorious resurrection – for even me.
Take a look at Lucinda’s cute poem about that silent night.
Isn’t that cute??? 🙂