December 24, 2018

Silent Night, Holy Night

United Methodist Hymnal – #239

. . . While earth’s peoples, with one voice,

Jesus their brother proclaim!


There is so much lore about the origins of this most beloved of all Christmas carols. Rumors of a failing organ in the church at Oberndorf, Austria, may not be true. No wheezing pipes, no mice chewing through the leather trackers. The organ, in fact, was in use for several years after. Rather, the composition of such songs for Midnight Mass was a common practice. What we do know is that the curate, Joseph Mohr, gave the poem to organist, Franz Gruber, who set it to music. It was performed for the first time, accompanied by guitar, at Midnight Mass, Christmas Eve 1818, exactly 200 years ago. My selection of a lyric actually is translated from the original German. The original lyric concerns itself far more with salvation, and God’s incarnation as human, than does the “sleep in heavenly peace” version we are familiar with. But it might also be noted, that the original piece was much more of a folk song than a lullaby. Still, something about the lilting melody has maintained its popularity for 200 years. Today, we to envision the Virgin Mary, supported by Joseph, rocking her infant son to sleep, surrounded by a magical glow, with heavenly beams shining into the stable, illuminating the tiny king’s face. It’s our story, our history. The birth we have celebrated and re-imagined for nearly two thousand years. In the stillness of that holy night, the world changed for all time. Love was born that night, and that is what we should be celebrating.


And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger;

because there was no room for them in the inn.

LUKE 2: 7


God of peace, on this holiest of nights, we pray that you would again come into our lives like you did so many years ago. Make yourself known in the faces of our loved ones, and all those we encounter. May the love born that night soften our hearts, as we put others before ourselves. And finally, help us to discern your will, that we might bring about your kingdom here and now.  Amen.

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