I love Christmas music. I will listen to Christmas music any time of the year. I think any Christmas song or hymn worth singing in December is worth singing all year ’round. I’d like to share some of my favorites as we anticipate Christmas, and my hope is that studying their history and inspiration will help make our Christmas celebrations even more exciting and worshipful this year.
Silent Night was originally a poem, written by Austrian Catholic priest Joseph Mohr. Mohr was a man of lowly background who had a heart for the poor and needy. One of his personal projects was to arrange a program for linking the destitute up with farmers for room and board.
Mohr wanted a new hymn for his midnight Christmas Mass, so he took his poem to musician Franz Xaver Gruber to give it a melody. Together, they played the hymn for the first time at Christmas Mass in 1818. Forty years later, it was translated to English, and has since circled the globe as a Christmas service mainstay.
While anyone who has been in a delivery room might question the words “all is calm, all is bright,” there’s something very powerful about letting “Jesus, Lord at thy birth” resonate in one’s throat. It’s so worth meditating on, Mohr repeats it twice. Consider the magnitude of phrases such as “the dawn of redeeming grace.” My favorite renditions of this song make the final refrain – “Christ the Savior is born” – something of an anthem, a celebratory declaration.
While the soothing tones and deliberate pacing could make “Silent Night” seem plodding, under the right direction it is contemplative, methodical, and yes, rejoicing. Christ the Savior IS born! And it’s worth repeating – Christ the Savior is born!
Silent night, Holy night All is calm, all is bright Round yon virgin, mother and child Holy infant, tender and mild Sleep in heavenly peace, Sleep in heavenly peace.
Silent night, Holy night Son of God, love’s pure light Radiant beams from thy holy face With the dawn of redeeming grace, Jesus, Lord at thy birth Jesus, Lord at thy birth.
Silent night, Holy night Shepherds quake, at the sight Glories stream from heaven above Heavenly, hosts sing Hallelujah. Christ the Savior is born, Christ the Savior is born.