Silent Night was composed in 1818 by a priest, Joseph Mohr and a church organist, Franz Gruber in the Austrian village of Obendorf. It’s too bad they didn’t live long enough to hear it sung on December 24, 1914 during World War I. This particular rendition must be the most famous one of all. Never heard of it? 99 years is a long time but I think the story bears repeating, so here goes.
WWI started in 1914 and by December the conflict had devolved into a bloody stalemate where both sides lived in filthy trenches and machine guns eviscerated anyone who dared to set foot in No-Man’s-Land. But on Christmas Eve, that year, the guns were silent and peace broke out. Troops on both sides crossed over to exchange gifts with the enemy and Silent Night was sung by all because it was the one song everyone knew, just by the melody.
Of all the Christmas Miracles ever recorded this one is my favorite. The idea that men who had spent the previous five months trying to annihilate each other could find it in their hearts to put down their weapons and hold out their hands, is just a fantastic notion. The human spirit transcends all of the evil that exists in the world and all of us possess this gift of humanity. I guess some times it takes the worst to bring out the best but when we find our common ground anything is possible and these men proved it for all eternity.
I’m probably too much of a hopeless romantic, but I think song lyrics are priceless treasures. Silent Night, Holy Night. All is calm, all is bright. Can you imagine what those soldiers were experiencing that Christmas Eve as they sang these words together? To me, this is the greatest affirmation of faith ever. No one can make us hate each other, that’s something we choose to do with our ignorance and conceit. But we can just as easily choose to love one another with compassion and understanding. If one song can bring us together maybe even more great lyrics are what we need the most. Songs that comfort, songs that empathize, songs that are humbling and songs of forgiveness are written in every language. All it takes is our voices and our willingness to sing, so all can hear.
There’s only one thing I want for Christmas, that we never again have to call a truce just so we can sing Silent Night.
©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.