December 20, 2014

 

Galatians 4:4-7
Silent Night

Around 180 years ago the carol Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht was heard for the first time in a village church in Oberndorf, Austria. The congregation at that Midnight Mass in St. Nicholas Church listened as the voices of the assistant pastor, Fr. Joseph Mohr, and the choir director, Franz Xaver Gruber, rang through the church to the accompaniment of Fr. Mohr’s guitar. On each of the six verses, the choir repeated the last two lines in four-part harmony.

On that Christmas Eve, a song was born that would ring its way into hearts of people throughout the world. Now translated into hundreds of languages, it is sung by untold millions every December—from small chapels in the Andes to great cathedrals in Rome and everywhere in between.

Today, you can find all sorts of fanciful tales claiming to tell the history of Silent Night. Some tell of mice eating the bellows of the organ creating the necessity for a hymn to be accompanied by a guitar. Others claim Joseph Mohr was forced to write the words to a new carol in haste since the organ would not play. Regardless, one thing is true. The miracle of Silent Night is that the words flowed from the imagination of a modest curate. The music was composed by a musician who was not known outside his village. There was no celebrity to sing at its world premiere. Yet, its powerful message of heavenly peace has crossed all borders and language barriers, conquering the hearts of people everywhere.

The miracle of the song echoes the miracle of the holy infant of which it speaks. The life, ministry and ultimate sacrifice of this baby has crossed all borders and language barriers and has healed the hearts of people everywhere. He came at the right time, and Paul says he was born under the law so he might redeem those under the law. We are now children of the King.