Joseph Mohr, 1792-1848

Be silent, O all flesh, before the LORD: for he is raised up out of his holy habitation.
Zechariah 2:13

Sadly the young assistant pastor strolled through the snow-covered village of Oberndorf, Austria. In a few days it would be Christmas Eve, but Josef Mohr knew there would be no music in his church to herald the great event. For whatever reason, the church organ was broken and silent.

Pausing, Mohr gazed at the scattered lights in the village. The sight of this peaceful town, wrapped in a blanket of snow, stirred his imagination. Surely it was on such a clear and quiet night as this that the hosts of angels announced the glorious news that the Saviour had been born!

The young minister sighed heavily as he thought, "If only we here in Oberndorf could celebrate the birth of Jesus with glorious music like the shepherds must have heard on that wonderful night!"

Standing there, his mind filled with visions of the nativity, Josef Mohr suddenly became aware that the disappointment was fading from his heart; in its place surged a great joy. Vividly, he saw the manger, carved from a mountain side; he saw Mary and Joseph and the Child; he saw the shepherds, leaving their sheep to see for themselves the miracle the angel proclaimed; he saw the strangers who had been attracted by the light of the great star. The image seemed to shape itself into the words of a poem he had written in 1816 when he was assigned to a pilgrim church in the small Alpine village of Mariapfarr, Austria.

The next day he showed the poem to Franz Gruber, the church organist, who said, "These words should be sung at Christmas, but we have no organ. What could we use for accompaniment? Your guitar?"

The organist replied, "Like Mary and Joseph in the stable, we must be content with what God provides for us."

Franz Gruber studied the poem, then softly strummed the melody that came to him. Next he put the words to the melody and sang them. When he finished, his soul was ablaze with its beauty. Mr. Gruber's beautiful music added the final touch to the poem Mohr had written two years earlier.

On Christmas Eve, 1818, in a small Austrian village, the Oberndorf choir, accompanied only by a guitar, sang for the first time the immortal news, "Silent Night.... Holy Night."

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 Hallelujah,
Christ the Savior is born!
Christ the Savior is born.

Silent night, holy night!
Son of God love's pure light.
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus Lord, at Thy birth.
Jesus Lord, at Thy birth.

Silent night, holy night
Wondrous star, lend thy light;
With the angels let us sing,
Alleluia to our King;
Christ the Savior is born,
Christ the Savior is born!

*For Today*: Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 2:1-20

The story of Christ's first coming is one of immense humility and peace; but we must remember: it is not for us to remain silent about that blessed night! Like the angels, the shepherds, the wise men, we MUST go and tell others:
JESUS died on the cross for my sin! and not for my sin only, but for the sin of the whole world!
Merry Christmas, and God, please bless us every one....


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