The Twelve Days of Christmas Carols
Christmastide Reflections on Songs of the Season
During the season of Christmastide – the nights are just as important as the days (if not more so.) The nights are longer this time of the year, and there are some very significant nights. New Year’s Eve is noted on every calendar, and so is Christmas Eve. It’s a season that treasures nights.
The music of the season reflects this focus. Of the sacred Christmas songs, it seems to me that “Silent Night” may be one of the most popular. According to tradition, on December 24, 1818, Joseph Moore, the curate of a small parish in Austria gave a poem he had written to Franz Gruber, the choirmaster and organist at the church. The church organ was broken, and Pastor Moore asked Mr. Gruber to set his poem to music, for guitar and two solo voices, so that they would have music for their services that night. Their creation was the carol we now know as Silent Night.
The Christmas story and season would not be complete if we didn’t take time to ponder what happened on that silent night. Luke paints the scene beautifully:
In that region there were shepherds living in the fields,
keeping watch over their flock by night.
Then an angel of the Lord stood before them,
and the glory of the Lord shone around them,
and they were terrified. But the angel said to them,
“Do not be afraid; for see—
I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people:
to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior
who is the Messiah, the Lord.
The carol writer painted the scene as such:
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 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 the 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.
On a special night, our Savior came to us. By the light of a star that shone that night, wise men in a far land also sensed that something incredible had happened. (We’ll get their story a little closer to January 6.) Thanks be to God for wonderful nights.
God, as the sun sets this day, help me to look to the sky in praise to You for this spectacular creation, and my place in it, as one redeemed by the Savior who has been born on a silent, holy night. Amen.