Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Carols

                    What would Christmas be without the beautiful carols?  The carols are familiar to us because we have heard them all our lives.  We hear the strains of music and start humming the melody or singing the words.   Listening to Christmas carols always brings the Spirit of Christmas to my heart.  I especially like to hear the story of how a particular carol came to be.

                    A friend of mine sent the following story along with her Christmas card this year.  The story is about how the Christmas hymn "Silent Night" came to be written.  The author is unknown.

                    "Father Joseph Mohr sat at the old organ.  His fingers stretched over the keys, forming the notes of a chord.  He took a deep breath and pressed down.  Nothing.  He lifted his fingers and tried again.  Silence echoed through the church.

                    "Father Joseph shook his head.  It was no use.  The pipes were rusted, the bellows mildewed.  The organ had been wheezing and growing quieter and quieter for months, and Father Joseph had been hoping it would hold together until the organ builder arrived to repair it in the spring.  But now, on December 23, 1818, the organ had finally given out.  St. Nicholas Church would have no music for Christmas.

                    "Father Joseph signed.  Maybe a brisk walk would make him feel better.  He pulled on his overcoat and stepped out into the night.  His white breath puffed out before him.  Moonlight sparkled off the snow-crusted trees and houses in the village of Oberndorf.  Father Joseph crunched through the snowy streets to the edge of the little Austrian town and climbed the path up the mountain.

                    "From high above Oberndorf, Father Joseph watched the Salzach River ripple past St. Nicholas Church.  In the spring, when melting snow flowed down the mountains and the river swelled in its banks, water lapped at the foundation of the church.  It was moisture from the flooding river that had caused the organ to mildew and rust.

                    "Father Joseph looked out over the Alps.  Stars shone above in the still and silent night.

                    "Silent night?  Father Joseph stopped.  Of course!  "Silent Night!"  He had written a poem a few years before, when he had first become a priest, and he had given it that very title.  "Silent Night."  Father Joseph scrambled down the mountain.  Suddenly he knew how to bring music to the church.

                    "The next morning, Father Joseph set out on another walk.  This time he brought a copy of his poem.  And this time he knew exactly where he was going - to see his friend Franz Gruber, the organist for St. Nicholas church, who lived in the next village.

                    "Franz Gruber was surprised to see the priest so far from home on Christmas Eve, and even more surprised when Father Joseph handed him the poem.

                    "That night Father Joseph and Franz Gruber stood at the altar of St. Nicholas Church.  Father Joseph held his guitar.  He could see members of the congregation giving each other puzzled looks.  They had never heard a guitar played in church before, and certainly not during midnight mass on Christmas Eve.

                    "Father Joseph picked out a few simple cords that Franz had put together on the guitar, and he and Franz Gruber began to sing.  Their two voices rang out, joined by the church choir on the chorus.

                    "Franz Gruber's melody matched the simplicity and honesty of Father Joseph's words perfectly.

                    "When the last notes faded into the night, the congregation remained still quite a while, everyone feeling the Holy Spirit in the silence.  That feeling filled the church.  The villagers from all around loved the song and how it made them feel!  Father Joseph's plan to bring music to St. Nicholas Church had not only worked, but he knew he had pleased the Savior too as he felt that warm glow of the Spirit of Christ envelope him as well.

                    "A few months later, the organ builder arrived and found the words and music to "Silent Night" lying on the organ.  The song enchanted him, and when he left, he took a copy of it with him.

                    "The organ builder gave the song to a family of traveling singers.  The traveling singers performed "Silent Night" in concerts all over Europe, and soon the song, that gave that special Spirit of Christmas on a silent night, spread throughout the world.

                    "Today, cathedral choirs, carolers and all Christians throughout the world sing the simple song that was first played in a  mountain church in Austria on Christmas Eve very nearly 200 years ago."

                    "Silent Night" is one of my favorite Christmas hymns as well as being one of the most popular of Christmas carols.  In fact, it may be the most performed and recorded Christmas carol of all time.  I really like this video because it shows the nativity and brings the Spirit of Christ.  

                    Stories behind other Christmas carols can befound here and here

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