“ONE OF MY FAVORITE CHRISTMAS STORIES”
If someone asked you to tell them some of your favorite things about Christmas, the list that you would state would have some overlap with other folks. Although each of us has personal favorites, we also share many of the same experiences. One of the things that put us in the Christmas mood is hearing the songs of the season. Perhaps none is more of a classic that a very simple song that really came about “hurriedly” due to a problem in a church long ago. Many of you know this story, but whether you know it or have never heard it, you love the song and the story just like I do.
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14
It was Christmas Eve in the Austrian Alps. At the newly constructed Church of St. Nicholas in Oberndorf, a Tyrol village near Salzburg, Father Joseph Mohr prepared for the midnight service. He was distraught because the church organ was broken, ruining prospects for that evening’s carefully planned music. But Father Joseph was about to learn that our problems are God’s opportunities, that the Lord causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him. It came in to Father Joseph’s mind to write a new song, once that could be sung organless. Hastily, he wrote the words, “Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright…..” Taking the text to his organist, Franz Gruber, he explained the situation and asked Franz to compose a simple tune.
That night, December 24, 1818, “Silent Night” was sung for the first time as a duet accompanied by a guitar at the aptly named Church of St. Nicholas in Oberndorf.
Shortly afterward, as Karl Mauracher came to repair the organ, he heard about the near-disaster on Christmas Eve. Acquiring a copy of the text and tune, he spread it throughout the Alpine region of Austria, referring to it as “Tiroler Volkslied.”
The song came to the attention of the Strasser Family, makers of fine chamois-skin gloves. To drum up business at various fairs and festivals, the four Strasser children would sing in front of their parent’s booth. Like the Von Trapp children a century later, they became popular folk singers throughout the Alps.
When the children – Caroline, Joseph, Andreas, and Amalie – began singing “Trioler Volkslied” at their performances, audiences were charmed. It seemed perfect for the snow-clad region, and perfect for the Christian heart. “Silent Night” even came to the attention of the king and queen, and the Strasser children were asked to give a royal performance, assuring the carol’s fame.
Were it not for a broken organ, there would never have been a “Silent Night.” (Copied from THEN SINGS MY SOUL, Robert J. Morgan, Thomas Nelson Publishing, Nashville, 2003, p.93).