Monday, December 23, 2013

Silent Night, Holy Night

Plaque from the authentic replicated chapel St. Nicholas in Frankenmuth, Michigan
I just recently learned about the background history of the popular Christmas song: Silent Night, Holy Night. It was written by a young Priest Joseph Mohr in 1816 when he was traveling to some parishioners in the country side of Austria.  He later became the shepherd of the St. Nicholas church in Oberndorf nearby Salzburg.  When the organ broke down at the church and Christmas approached, he was concerned that he couldn’t create enough spiritual power to pull the parishioners to church on Christmas Eve.  He remembered his poem from the years before and went to visit his good friend Franz Xaver Gruber who was the schoolmaster in Oberndorf.  He asked Franz to compose music to the words and the original version of Silent Night was born.  They performed the song that Christmas Eve at the midnight mass with Franz playing the guitar and the choir singing the words.  Everybody loved the song because it was written in their native language, German, while they often sang Latin songs.

When in the following spring the organ master repaired the organ of St. Nicholas, some children performed the song along with the refreshed organ.  The organ master took the song to other parts of Austria, where the song took a life of its own.  Eventually, it traveled to Berlin, and even London.  They even changed some notes and translated the words into English and many other languages.  It became one of the most popular Christmas songs.

Just recently, some German/American film makers refreshed the whole history of the song and made a movie "Stille,Nacht, Heilige Nacht,” about Joseph Mohr and Franz Xaver Gruber.

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,                        Silent night, holy night

Alles schläft; einsam wacht                       All is calm, all is bright
Nur das traute hochheilige Paar.              'Round yon virgin Mother and Child
Holder Knabe im lockigen Haar,               Holy infant so tender and mild
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!                       Sleep in heavenly peace!
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!                       Sleep in heavenly peace!

music in German

What I am most amazed about is that this song as well as stories and even persons: how often the origin or the surrounding facts are forgotten and/or changed.  Brother Mohr had the best intentions to bring joy and revival to his congregation at a time when people had little, and especially folks that lived in remote mountain villages lived in poor circumstances.  Until this day, the music just warms one’s heart, being soothing and uplifting at the same time, appropriately for a sleeping baby.


My inquiring mind has to wonder though, why was Jesus the King of Kings born in a manger in the first place?  And how could a virgin have a baby?  Who was the physical father of Jesus?  What has commercialism to do with the true meaning of Christmas?

I had similar questions when I first joined the Unification Church in 1973.  My leader, Paul Werner, told me to read the bible and referred me to:

Matthew 1  Genealogy of Jesus, Birth of Jesus, Joseph protecting Mary’s pregnancy by taking her as his wife.

Luke 1:5-56  Zecharias and Elizabeth, parents of John the Baptist; Mary stays with Elizabeth and Zecharias; Mary accepts her role as Jesus’ mother.

NOTE: Matthew 1:16: Two genealogies of Jesus in the Gospel, one in Matthew and one in Luke.  The differences can be explained by the fact that Matthew records the genealogy of Joseph as the legal (adopted), not the natural, father of Jesus.  Luke (Luke 3:23-38) traces the genealogy of Jesus through Mary, his mother, which accounts for an almost completely different set of ancestors.  In those days, women’s genealogies were not traced through females.

If you read these bible passages from the traditional Christian view, you will not find any new truth in these words.  I read the verses and realized right away that Jesus had a physical father as well a spiritual father.  It does not take anything away from Mary’s faithfulness and even Joseph’s obedience to the direction (Matthew 18-25) he got from the archangel Gabriel to make Mary his wife disregarding the fact that she became pregnant by another man while they were engaged.

When Father Moon started to preach about Jesus he gave many deep insights from his personal encounters with Jesus.  Therefore, in the Divine Principle, he goes into hidden secrets of the Bible which he received through revelation and personal guidance from Jesus himself.  Based on the Old Testament, he draws on certain parallels in order to bring about restoration of the lineage of God.
What has all of this to do with the song “Silent Night, Holy Night?”  We are living now at a time where many people have lost their faith in God because they cannot accept certain things with their logical mind.  God, the author of our mind and our heart, has given us all three faculties: Intellect (reasoning), Emotion (heart), and Will (choices to act upon).  It is our responsibility to bring all three into harmony which will take us to fulfill our God-given purpose, our heart’s desire.


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