LSB 363 Silent Night, Holy Night
Silent Night has few rivals as the most popular Christmas Carol of all time. The original lyrics of the song "Stille Nacht" were written in Oberndorf bei Salzburg, Austria, by the priest Father Joseph Mohr and the melody was composed by the Austrian headmaster Franz Xaver Gruber.
The carol was first performed in the Nikolaus-Kirche (Church of St. Nicholas) in Oberndorf, Austria, on December 24, 1818. Mohr had composed the words two years earlier, in 1816, but on Christmas Eve brought them to Gruber and asked him to compose a melody and guitar accompaniment for the church service.
Bing Crosby's rendition is one of only thirty singles to sell over 10 million copies.
The popularity of Silent Night stems from simplicity of melody and expressive lyrics. These combine to highlight the Lukan Christmas narrative. The direct presentation of Mary and Jesus in stanza one brings our focus directly to the manger. We can imagine ourselves kneeling at the manger adoring the newborn as hints of His true identity are planted - Virgin mother, Holy infant.
Stanza two takes us to the second scene of Luke's account. The Angels break their silence and the shepherds are caught in the surprise and wonder that something truly extraordinary is happening on this very night.
“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”Through the long years of waiting for God's Champion to arrive on the field of battle, God had posted markers for those listening to Him. Where should we look for the Savior? In every twist and turn of the story of God's people he traces where to look. A child of Adam and Eve - Abraham and Sarah - a Son of Jacob - a Son of Judah - a Son of David - all of those long lists of names pointing us in the direction of the Savior end up with one last marker - look for the babe in the swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.
How many children might there have been in Bethlehem that night? How many may have shared the same birthday? Who knows? Probably not a great many, but how many others would be contending for being the manger baby? Now we are down to one.
The carol now keys in on the divine titles given to Jesus by the Angels and these truly answer the solemn question, "Who is this?" Christ - Lord - Son of God - He is the one given to the world to stand in our place against every spiritual enemy. He is the one given by the Father to serve as Lord of all. The Eternal Son of God makes us family once again. The Son makes us sons and daughters of God our Father.
Silent Night blends the comfort of home and the wonder of the Angel's announcement. Silent Night still provides an incredible witnessing opportunity. It has become acceptable as a cultural phenomena thanks to the many recordings of it by the most prominent popular artists who can't resist producing at least one Christmastime album. The direct unapologetic confession of faith enshrined in these lyrics give Jesus' disciples a marvelous opportunity to say, "Amen."
And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
The Shepherds and the Angels
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest,When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.