Composer Franz Gruber (l) and lyricist Joseph Mohr wrote ‘Silent Night’, one of the most beloved of Christmas carols. (Photo credit: Facebook)

Composer Franz Gruber (l) and lyricist Joseph Mohr wrote ‘Silent Night’, one of the most beloved of Christmas carols. (Photo credit: Facebook)

From the Pulpit: Silent Night, Holy Night

The night of Jesus’ birth was, like today, anything but normal

“Silent Night, Holy Night” is a favourite Christmas carol, fondly known as “Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht” by many who have a European or German heritage. It was written by the pastor of a small Austrian church in 1818, and was put to music and sung as the result of a roving band of actors showing up in the small town on Dec. 23 to perform a Christmas drama.

Because the church organ was broken, they performed in a home. When the performance was over, rather than take his normal route, the pastor chose to walk home the long way, which overlooked the town. As he mused over the performance and viewed the small town lying peacefully in the snow with postcard perfection, he was reminded of a poem he had written weeks earlier.

He then decided to have the church organist put it to music, which he did the next day. Rather than an organ, the musician used the only instrument available to hear his composition: a guitar. It was sung for the first time by the pastor and organist that Christmas day, the accompanying instrument being — you guessed it — the guitar. However, it was the organ repairman who, a few days later, took the words and music beyond the little church in the Austrian Alps after listening to it being played on the repaired organ.

Certainly the night of Jesus’ birth was also filled with wondrous events that spawned awe (and fear), followed by worship. The night Jesus was born was not “normal”, either. But rather than limited travel and socializing, the census ordered by the Roman government required everyone to travel to the city of their ancestry to be taxed, which no doubt had its own kind of stress.

It is ironic that God chose a chaotic, anxious time for His Son, Jesus, who would also be known as “The Prince of Peace”, to be born. Rather than anxiety, our Bibles tell us that “the peace of God which surpasses all understanding” is available to those who, through prayer, ask God for it.

Luke 2: 8-10: “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 great fear. And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.’”

Pastor Paul Ford is with the Sage Hills Evangelical Free Church in Ashcroft ( Contact him at

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