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.
The most recorded Christmas carol of all time had humble origins.
Written in a tiny village in Austria by Franz Gruber and Joseph Mohr, the men wanted a simple song to perform at Christmas (their church organ had suffered flood damage).
Initially, the song was accompanied by voices, later by the guitar, and then by groups of traveling folk singers as it spread around the world.
Perhaps the most famous place the melody was sung was also the most unusual.
In December 1914, the fighting of WWI had quieted as tense English, French, and German soldiers waited for the next bout of gunfire.
But on Christmas Eve, what the soldiers received was an unexpected ceasefire.
In certain places along the line, enemy soldiers ventured into no man's land to play games, exchange gifts, smoke cigarettes, and celebrate together as best they could, knowing they would resume fighting in a few days.
Many men recounted the beauty of familiar Christmas carols, but none more beautiful than “Silent Night” in its original German.
Stille Nacht! Heil'ge Nacht!
Alles schläft; einsam wacht.
Nur das traute hoch heilige Paar.
Holder Knab’ im lockigen Haar,
Schlafe in himmlischer Ruh! S
chlafe in himmlischer Ruh!
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.
It was a song from a simpler time. First performed at an organ-less church in a small village on Christmas Eve, and sung a century later over Europe's bloodied, war-ridden trenches. It seems no matter our circumstances, we all long for the same.
Paper Sunday is blessed to collaborate with Chris Harper on this Advent Devotional Series.
Chris Harper is a speaker, writer, and disciple-maker. Chris is President of 252Edu, a consulting firm based in Dallas, Texas. Chris serves schools, churches, and non-profits by helping them "grow in wisdom, favor and stature with God and man.”
When not taking ground for King Jesus, you can find Chris on the basketball court playing a pick-up game. Chris is a sneakerhead, an avid reader, and loves a good cheeseburger. You can follow him @252consulting on Instagram.