Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!

(Silent Night! Holy Night)

Joseph Mohr was born and reared in extreme poverty in
Salzburg, Austria. His mother, Anna Schoiber, was a poor
spinster knitter. His father Franz Joseph Mohr served in the
 army as one of the archbishop’s musketeers and left Anna
and Joseph to take care of themselves while living with
Joseph’s elderly grandmother.

The cathedral choir-master, Johann Nepomuk Hiernle
 became a foster-father to Joseph and took him under his
wings and saw that he got a proper education. Ordained as
a priest in August, 1815, he was loved by the people in his
area and never rose above poverty, because he gave all his
earnings to help educate the youth in his parish and to
care for the elderly.

Poor health sent him back to Salzburg from an assignment
at Mariapfarr, and was later assigned to St Nicholas church
 in Oberndorf in 1817. He and his assistant pastor, Franz
 Xaver Gruber, an organist, became fast friends; and the rest
 is history. On December 24, 1818 Morh’s poem,
“Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!” was sung by Mohr and
Gruber as Gruber played the organ. What we know as
“Silent Night” is probably one of the best-loved Christmas
carols in the world. It has been translated into nearly
300 languages and dialects and has touched lives ever
since, even soldiers on the frontlines in more than one war.

“Silent Night” implies that there is no sound. This was not
the scene of Mohr’s Stille Nacht. It was what was happening
inside the capsule of this holy “Silent Night” that attention is
drawn. The event destined to change all of creation for all
of eternity was the center of the “stille nacht,” and the world had nothing to add to the heavenly sounds. As the world went about
its usual business unaware, having no voice or sound to add
 to the glorious event, it was silent about the holy
 “immaculate” birth that was taking place. The world was
“noisy” as always, oblivious to what God was doing, while
 the heavens were aflame with the eternity-changing scene
 being played out in a stable. It was anything but “silent”
 in the “capsule.”

An angel, illuminated by the unearthly glory of God,
visited shepherds on a dark hillside with an announcement
 that would change the world forever--“For there is born to
you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the
Lord.” The herald angel was joined by a multitude of the
 heavenly host “praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God
in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men’ “
 (Luke 2). While the Heavenly Hosts sang “Alleluia,” they
pointed the shepherds to “yon Virgin Mother and Child.”

No, it was not a silent night in that no sound was heard;
the sound has been heard around the world as those who
 met this Baby born in the stable that night, the Savior,
 Messiah, carried the message to others. It was silent in
 that no other voice fully understood what was happening;
 no other voice had the authority to proclaim that this humble
 birth in a stable that “Stille Nacht” would be the means
of bringing salvation to God’s beloved world. Only this
One whose birth announcement was heralded to the
lowly shepherds by angels and has continued to be
 echoed through the centuries could fulfill the
 prophesies that all of Israel had looked toward.

The “silent night” encompassed the whole nativity scene from
the time the wise men left their country following the star
until they arrived about two years after the birth of the Christ
child. Attention was being drawn toward the event, but
acceptance was limited. The world was silent in
acknowledging the blessed event, and Satan has tried to
stop every voice that has broken the silence to herald
the Good News.

The silence of the night was broken by God’s herald angels.
 It was broken when the shepherds came to worship the Child
 in the stable. The silence was broken by Herod who performed genocide of all infants under the age of two when he learned
of the birth of Jesus. The silence was broken when the wise
 men arrived at the house where Joseph had moved his
 family to offer their gifts and worship.

The silence of the night was broken when the Baby grew
up and God proclaimed Him to be the Savior who pleased
Him. The Stille Nacht was utterly shattered when the Man
 went to Calvary, died for the sins of the world and rose
 from the dead to ascend to the right hand of the Father.
Though it remains a “Heileige Nacht” (Holy Night),
never again will it be a “Stille Natcht” (Silent Night).

“But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep
silence before Him” (Habakkuk 2:20). Every tongue will be
stopped that has spoken against the Baby born that night.
 The world will be speechless as they stand before Him,
 the Babe in the manger, the Crucified Man, the Risen Lord.

“…His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was
 full of His praise” (Habakkuk 3:3).

Let us never be silent again about the coming of the
 Savior. Let praises ring and echo through the endless ages
proclaiming Him King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Let the herald angels again proclaim--“That at the name of
Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of 
those on earth, and of those under earth, and that every
tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the
glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11).

“Heilige Nacht!”

(Information on Mohr and Gruber came from

November 18, 2004
Delores Adams
Copyrighted. All rights reserved.


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