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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Silent Night, Holy Night


Last night I stepped outside for a few minutes and looked up at the winter sky. The stars were bright against the dark sky and the crescent moon laying on it's side was beautiful. There's just something extra special about crisp winter nights. I began thinking about the night sky so many years ago when Christ was born. I thought about the shepherds in the fields watching their sheep. There may have been a little rustling of the sheep, perhaps a flute playing softly, or maybe it was a completely "silent night." What would it have been like to be there when the angel appeared and spoke?
 
"Fear not: for, behold,
I bring you good tidings of great joy,
which shall be to all people"
 
What would if have been like to hear the host of angels fill the air with their chorus of praise?
 
"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace, good will toward men"
 
It gives me chills just thinking about it!! I'm sure the shepherds told the story of that night many times and it was passed down through many generations. A story that we can read about in Luke chapter two in our Bibles. As I looked up at the night sky I sang the words "Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht."  The first line of the hymn "Silent Night, Holy Night" in German.
 
On December 24, 1818, the young pastor, Joseph Mohr, of St. Nicholas parish church in a tiny Austrian village took a poem that he had written two years earlier to his friend Franz Xaver Gruber, a schoolmaster and organist.  On that night in just a few short hours Guber composed the melody and guitar accompaniment for this Christmas hymn. Father Mohr's reason for wanting the new carol is unknown. Some speculate that the organ would not work; others feel that he dearly loved guitar music and merely wanted a new carol for Christmas. At the midnight mass Father Mohr and Gruber sang the hymn accompanied by Mohr's guitar. On each of the six verses, the choir repeated the last two lines. The carol was first sung in America by an Austrian family singing group in 1839. Now this lovely hymn is sung in churches and homes across the world.
 
Autograph of the carol by Franz Xaver Gruber
 
I've love this story since I first heard it in early childhood when a music teacher told us about the hymn as we prepared for our Christmas concert. Not only did she tell us the story, but she taught us the first verse in German. Although I've forgotten most of the words, I still remember the first line "Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht."  I clearly remember the night of the concert; the stage, our class singing dressed in our Christmas best, and being so proud that we could speak German!
  
Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Alles schläft; einsam wacht
Nur das traute hochheilige Paar.
Holder Knabe im lockigen Haar,
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!
Joseph Mohr
Franz Xaver Gruber
 
If you can, take a few minutes to go outside tonight, look at the winter sky, absorb the beauty, and remember the most perfect silent night.

6 comments:

  1. A lovely post. I love the song Silent Night. beautiful.

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  2. I didn't realize until reading this how long it's been since I have gone outside and looked up. Huh. I certainly love the sense of awe and humility I feel whenever I am able to do it. I will make a point of it tonight and think of you!

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  3. so beautiful cathy. so much beauty if we take the time. and we must take the time. thank you for sharing your lovely memories and a gently reminder. xoxox

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  4. Dear Cathy,

    Lovely post. From my home to yours, MERRY CHRISTMAS!

    I hope you have a wonderful time.

    Love,
    B.

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  5. Beautiful post. Wishing you and your family a very happy Christmas. :)

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  6. What a beautiful and inspiring story about one of my favorite Christmas carols. Wishing you and yours a joyful holiday season.

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Thanks so much for stopping by!!