Silent Night, Holy Night

ecardu8f18a_16563Silent 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!

Words by Josef Mohr, ca 1817
Music by Franz Gruber, 1820

 


Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
Isaiah 7:14

In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety.
Psalm 4:8

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.
1 John 1:5

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.
Ephesians 1:7

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
Luke 1:29 – 33


 

I don’t know if your cupboard is like ours, but the dishes we have are used regularly. Some of the dishes may have a few chips, but you know that comes from regular us. Now we do have some special dishes. You know what I am talking about, the “fine china.” Those dishes that only come out for extremely special occasions, whatever those may be. This is not really that unusual. Whether it is dishes, clothes, or anything people often have the everyday items and then those that are set apart for something special. This is the definition of the New Testament Greek word “hagios” which we translate in English as holy.

Now while this word has become a commonly used word in the everyday language, it true meaning is often missed. But in the case of the Christmas hymn, “Silent Night, Holy Night” its true meaning shines through. Holy – To be set apart by or for God.

Josef Mohr begins by setting the tone of a quite and peaceful evening with the words “Silent night, holy night, All is calm, all is bright.” With this as the background he begins to paint for us a picture. He writes, “Round yon virgin mother and Child. Holy Infant, so tender and mild.” A reminder that Jesus was the fulfillment of a prophecy given by Isaiah in Chapter 7, verse 14 where he writes, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

The first verse ends with the words, “sleep in heavenly peace.” Now while this at first glance may seem to be a reference to the Christ child sleeping. However, when we look closer it in light of Psalm 4:8 which reads, “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety.” it seems rather to refer to the city and the peace that has descended on upon the world with Christ presence.

The hymn continues by recounting the events of Luke 2:8 – 14 which reads, “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’”

He is the Messiah, the Lord. It is this theme that Mohr continues with when he writes, “Son of God, love’s pure light.” He is the Messiah, the Lord and He is the light and “in him there is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5)

The light shines forth and Mohr uses the imagery to transition to a new idea. For the lawn comes with the dawn, and he writes, “Radiant beams from Thy holy face, With the dawn of redeeming grace.” Jesus came to extend the grace of God to all people. This is why Ephesians 1:7 says, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” This is why Jesus came, and his birth is but the beginning, the “dawn of redeeming grace.” From the moment he was born, he was there for this purpose. From the moment he was born he was the Son of God (Luke 1:32) So the Mohr wrote, “Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth,”

This night was indeed set apart for special time in all history. It was truly a Holy night, for on this night God came to earth to redeem the world. For this reason, those who come to know the peace that can be found in Jesus alone join together with the proclamation, “Christ the Savior is born!”

 

 

Read more about “Silent Night.”

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