Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Sing Christmas: Dec 24

Our final Carol in this Advent season. I hope you have found plenty to think about as you have followed along day by day, and I pray that you will have a blessed Christmas, wherever and however you celebrate it.

Silent night, holy night,
all is calm, all is bright
round yon virgin mother and child.
Holy Infant, so tender and mild,
sleep in heavenly peace.
Sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent night, holy night,
shepherds quake at the sight,
glories stream from heaven afar,
heavenly hosts sing alleluia;
Christ, the Saviour, is born!
Christ, the Saviour, is born!

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.

Joseph Mohr 1792-1848

trans. John Freeman Young 1820-1885

The famous legend about the writing of this carol – that mice had chewed through the organ bellows, so that a new carol was needed which could be accompanied on the guitar– is sadly a complete myth. The carol was first sung to the guitar however, at the Midnight Mass in Oberndorf, Austria, in 1818. The words were written by the local priest, Joseph Mohr, and the music by schoolmaster and organist, Franz Gruber. The other story about this song – that it was sung simultaneously in German, French and English by WW1 soldiers during the “Christmas Truce” in 1914 WW1 does appear to be true though. Perhaps the words reminded the soldiers of their common humanity. Not everyone thought this was a good idea. Christmas Truces were suppressed as the war went on; it was harder to kill people if you saw them as equally human.
If yesterday’s carol (O come all ye faithful) was all about movement, this one is marked by its stillness. It is as if the whole of creation is transfixed for a moment by the birth of Christ, simply watching and wondering as the light of God shines out into the world through him. There is nothing to be said or done. This is a moment simply to be aware of the love of God, which cannot be earned or worked for, but is freely given in this child, who calls us all to live in peace. John’s Gospel calls him the “Word of God”, and this carol invites us simply to listen to what he is saying to us tonight.

·         How will you be marking Christmas? Will it include some time for worship, and perhaps for quiet contemplation amidst all the hustle and busyness?
·         If Jesus is God’s Word to the world, what is he saying to you right now? Where do you need to seek peace and reconciliation in your life?

Bible Reading: “We love, because God first loved us.” 1 John 4.19

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