December, 2020 – Silent Night, Please…

December, 2020 – Silent Night, Please…

I know the Scripture lends itself to our crying out our praise to our Magnificent God.  Shout for joy to God, all the earth’ – Psalms 66.1 and 100.1.  All of Psalm 150 concerns itself with shouting out our praise with our voices and musical instruments.  Check out Leviticus 9.24 concerning shouting out praise.  ‘The people (the sons of Israel in conquering the city of Jericho) shouted, and the priests blew the trumpets; and when they heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted with a great shout, and the wall fell down flat.’  – Joshua 6.20.  The Scripture is filled with our needing to ‘shout to the Lord’!  Just one more from Ezra 3.11  – ‘And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the Lord because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid.’ 

I recently read something a young friend wrote on FB – that she was always the ‘quiet one’ or the ‘quiet girl’ – the one who didn’t talk very much.  She had been bothered for quite some time being called the ‘quiet girl’ – but ultimately accepted, with peace, that God had given her the personality that He had.  My PM response to her was that ‘I have so many noisy, chatty, even loud friends (whom I love!),  but I so very much welcome the quiet, reflective and thoughtful friends I have’.  They are a breath of solace, comfort, relief when needed most.  I love ‘shouting to the Lord, all the earth, let us sing’ (words from that wonderful worship song) . . . ‘  – but can there also be a time for all of us to be silent?

I’m not going into the history of the world’s most favorite Christmas Carol, ‘Silent Night, Holy Night’ – most of you know that.  The calming, soothing lullaby-like melody of the carol was written by Franz Gruber in  1818, it is believed – set to the words of a young priest Josef Mohr in Austria.  What I don’t know is what would compel Mohr in 1816 to write the lyrics, ‘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’?  Was it because the attempted domination of Europe through the efforts of the Napoleonic Wars was finally over?  Did Mohr look out over the village of Mariapfarr (Austria) sensing the quietness of the people’s hearts and just how much they finally loved the silence?  Was he finally able to concentrate on the birth of the Savior and the words of the hymn flooded his heart?  Was it because he knew how blessed he and the village and the rest of Europe were to celebrate such a holy and tender and mild Infant?  I’m not sure. I have researched it, but there must be more information on Josef Mohr’s reasoning somewhere. 

As he looked at the sheep below in the valley, it was almost as if he could see the shepherd’s initial, fearful response to the appearance of an angel – and the angel’s calming them with “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.”  I’m sure their fears were calmed . . . 

But – ‘Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests”. (Scripture from Luke 2)  That would have given me pause!  I would have expected the shepherds on seeing the heavens full of angels to truly be alarmed.  Instead with the advent of Immanuel (God with us), the shepherds’ response was – “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the LORD has told us about”. 

I’m sure that with the end to the war and sensing such a peace, and feeling, perhaps, he was reliving the wonder the shepherds experienced with the birth of the Prince of Peace, it was a wonderfully ‘silent night and so very holy a night’.  How blessed was Josef Mohr to be chosen to live at that moment and be filled with the words that would become familiar around the world now more than two-hundred years later.  In the third verse, Mohr refers to Jesus as ‘Son of God – Love’s pure light’ that with His birth, brought the ‘dawn of redeeming grace’. 

I pray that each of us can find such a precious time of silence – of quiet – to come before the Tiny Babe, Infant King – JESUS this year at Christmastime and just worship Him.  Christmas won’t be as loud and clanging this year as most have been previously, so let’s use some of that otherwise filled time to be silent – to know how holy the Savior is. I love how Habakkuk (2.20) says it:

“The Lord is in His holy temple; let all the earth be silent before Him.”