“Silent Night, Holy Night”
- I looked up the word “silent” in the dictionary to get a better understanding of what the technical meaning is. I have an idea and know of its several different meanings, but is that all? Here’s what I found…
Si’lent 1. Making no utterance; speechless; mute; as, a silent person; also not inclined to talk; taking no part in what is going on. 2. Noiseless; soundless; still. 3. Making no mention; as she was silent about that part. 4. Performed or borne without sound; as silent prayer; not pronounced; having no sound.
- “Silent Night” (“Stille Nacht” in its original German) is one of the most well-known traditional Christmas carols sung around the world.
- The song was originally a poem written by pastor Joseph Franz Mohr and composed by his friend Franz Xaver Gruber in early 19th century Austria. Pastor Mohr desperately needed a carol for the Christmas Eve midnight mass that was only hours away, and he hoped Gruber – a school teacher as well as the church’s choir master and organist – could set his poem to music; he composed the melody in just a few hours on that Christmas Eve.
- The melody used today (a slow, meditative lullaby or pastorale) is slightly different from Gruber’s original (a moderato tune in 6/8 time and siciliana rhythm), particularly in the final strain.
- The English translation we most frequently sing today was written and published by Episcopal priest John Freeman Young in 1859, who translated three verses of Mohr’s original six.
- This morning as we are in the second week of December, I wish for us to look at this very popular German hymn brought to America and sang every Christmas by choirs and specialists, church members, and just people in general.
I. Silent Night, Holy Night
A) The setting of the occasion
- If you may indulge me this morning, I believe that the song writer here in this song was trying to get our feelings stirred by the quietness and holiness of this special night that only a few people on earth witnessed as well as all the heavenly hosts who appeared to the shepherds.
- I would have to say that this song is one of my few favorite Christmas songs that are in our All American Hymnals today.
- I believe that the songwriter was trying to paint for us a picture…of a night that was the most special night of all nights created by God.
- It was a night that a Savior was born to die, and yet give life to all who believe.
B) Silent Night
- In looking at the meaning of the word “silent” we can see by reading scripture that Bethlehem was hardly anything but silent.
- I mean, it was tax season. Everybody had come during this time of year to the city of their birth and had to pay their taxes because of the new decree (Law) passed by Caesar.
- Joseph and Mary had to go there as well to pay their taxes. It was so crowded and full of people that “…there was no room for them in the inn.”
- I believe that quite possibly the song writer could have alluded to the “silent night” as being a night of peacefulness for…
- Mary- having spent many restless nights before the birth as a woman in travail would be until after the birth. And I am sure that she was probably sore from riding the donkey for several days.
- Joseph – making sure that their taxes were paid, finding a place to spend the night, and provide food for the family.
- Jesus – finally arriving into a new world that is completely different than what he was used to (Heaven). For 9 months, He patiently awaited His triumphal entry into the world.
- At this time of year many people have the wrong idea of the “peace” that Jesus brought. The world thinks that Jesus brought peace from wars, or fighting, and turmoil.
- Jesus was bringing peace to the hearts of those who believe in God and His Son Jesus Christ so that they may enjoy life with the “…peace that passeth all understanding”
- Jesus said in John 14:26…But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. 27) Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
- Jesus reminds us of why He came in Matthew 10:32…Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. 33) But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. 34) Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 35) For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
- So, you see the “silent night” was really for the hearts in the world that were under the rule of the Pharisees and the scribes, under the law of the Sanhedrin. God sent his Son to bring peace to our hearts.
B) Holy Night
- I believe that the song writer wanted the singers of His song to realize the holiness of that night because it was God who is holy that gave His Son to be an example of holiness for all mankind to witness and become holy.
- The cattle were not holy. The stable not holy. The parents not holy. The city of Bethlehem not holy. The trees and ground not holy. The shepherds not holy. The stars in the sky not holy.
- Well, what was holy about that night? It was the birth of the child that will make His followers be able to be presented as “holy” before a holy God. Jesus brought holiness to the believers that live in a world that is spiritually bankrupt and morally wrong.
- In another Christmas account we can find in Matthew 1:18…Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
- This baby was holy, this baby was without sin.
- John the Baptist made this statement in Mark 1:8…I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost. When you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you are immediately baptized in His holiness. You can now have immediate access with the Father (God) who demands holiness in His presence.
- 1 Corinthians 6:19…What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20) For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
- This is the same Holy Ghost that gave seed to Mary that produced a Holy Savior that through Him we also can be holy.
- Colossians 1:21…And you, that were sometime alienated (separated from God) and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he (Jesus) reconciled (made friends again). 22) In the body of his (Jesus) flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable (without blame) and unreproveable (not able to scold or blame) in his (God’s) sight:
- It was a holy night because God’s Son came from holiness, became a holy child in the flesh as God Himself demanded a holy setting for His birth which meant a humble stable, the least expected visitors (shepherds) to come, an atmosphere of humility which will create the same in His people.
- It was a Silent Night, and it was a Holy Night.
- Verse 1 goes like this…
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.
- Look at the words “round (around)” and “yon (yonder)” which means at or in this place, or being within view but far away.
- There was a calmness and brightness that shown around the mother and her infant child who slept in heavenly peace. Heaven is a peaceful place.
- Again, it was no
II. Shepherds Quake at the Sight
A) Sore afraid
- Note the second verse of the song that says…
Silent night, holy night! Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia
Christ the Savior is born, Christ the Savior is born.
- How do you suppose the songwriter understood the response of the shepherds when he wrote… “Shepherds quake at the sight?”
- The answer to that question is found in Luke 2:8…And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9) And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10) And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
- The night that was depicted as silent and holy was probably not what the shepherds would have described until after their nerves calmed down from seeing what really shocked them causing them to be “sore afraid.”
- When Jesus is in your heart and your thoughts, when Jesus is the reason for the season, when Jesus is your motive to do anything, when Jesus is the one that leads in your daily walk, and God is your pilot flying you in life, then you have no reason for fear.
- I would dare say that these shepherds were “sore (strongly, big time) afraid” because of what they saw.
- I believe that they were just as afraid as we would have been at the brightness that shone around the angel of the Lord. Why? I mean, do you get afraid at the brightness of the sun? No. Why because you expect the sun to be bright.
- Does it create fear in a teenager when they are sneaking out of the house at night and the parents flip the light switch on? Yes. WHY? Because they were doing something that they were not supposed to be doing and didn’t expect to get caught at it.
- I am not saying that the shepherds were doing something wrong here, but what I believe might be a scenario to ponder in that they had sins in their life that they had not offered up sacrifices for and thought it was judgment day for them.
- Silent is a word of calmness not calamity. It is a word that offers peace. It is a word that should not be associated with fear. So why did the writer write repeatedly in the song… “Silent night, Holy night?”
- I believe it is because of the silence that the Holy Spirit creates within us when we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord.
- When we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior and lord over our life, it creates within us a desire to “see” or better yet, “know” him.
- WHY? Because he will save us from our sins that ultimately lead us to a place we deserve, which is hell.
- The long awaited Messiah of the Jews had arrived.
- As you notice in Luke 2:10, the angels had brought to the shepherds “…good tidings (news) of great joy, which shall be to all people.”
- This “good tidings (news)” is the very thing that brought to the night and every night thereafter silence and holiness.
- Silent means peacefulness and calmness. That silence and holiness can only come through the belief and trust in Jesus Christ the Savior of our souls.
III. Son of God, Love’s Pure Light
A) Son of God, at His birth
- I love this last verse of the song “Silent Night” that goes like this…
Silent night, holy night! Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face, With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus Lord, at Thy birth, Jesus Lord, at Thy birth.
- This is my favorite verse of this song. As I sing this verse, here is what I get out of it…
- A silent night and holy night is brought to me because of the Son of God which is God’s “pure (No falseness)” “light (understanding).” Those radiant beams from His holy face, lights my daily path removing my sins every day with His redeeming grace. All of this makes me grateful for the Son of God which is Jesus Christ my Lord, and gives me cause to celebrate His glorious birth.
- John 8:12…Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
- Jesus tells us that He is “…the light of the world.” He brings to us a better understanding of God and who God is.
- Jesus further tells us that everyone that follows Him will not be without that understanding of God.
- When you look at Jesus you see God. When the world looks at us they should see Jesus.
- Jesus Christ the Son of God was born to die for our sins. Why would we not have a desire to celebrate His birth?
- I have an anxiety attack every time I hear someone say that they are offended at manger scenes, and all this talk about Jesus being Lord, and glory to the new born King, and etc.
- If I were a politician, I would tell those people to leave America because it was founded on these doctrines. The doctrines of Jesus Christ should take preeminence over any other being or thing that is worshiped here.
- I pray for every soul here this morning to have a very…
“Silent Night, Holy Night.”