There was a priest in Austria named Father Mohr in 1816. His friend and school teacher, Franz Gruber was a school teacher who led the music for the Christmas service at their church... St. Nicholas. (Catch that? The church of Saint Nick?) Father Mohr asked his friend to compose a melody to a poem he had written called Stille Nacht, German for Silent Night. Franz wrote a melody and the song was sung at the service.
The song was originally accompanied on the guitar and Father Mohr himself along with Franz Gruber sang the song with all six verses. A couple years later, Franz wrote an organ accompaniment for the song. It was then that an organ repair man was at the church working and took a copy of the song. At that point it began spreading throughout Europe. By 1839 it had made it's way to the United States and was sung publicly for the first time at Trinity Church in New York City, where it soon became the song Silent Night that we know and cherish today.
By the time Wold War I broke out, Silent Night was known around the world. On Christmas Eve of 1914, the German and Ally trenches ceased their firing as voices rang in familiar song to both sides... Stille Nacht... Silent Night. The song was sung together by the warring sides during this Christmas Truce.
Unfortunately the firing resumed on Christmas Day. And the firing still continues today. Long after Word War I has ended.
Peace on earth, goodwill to men. It's a well known phrase. But not scriptural. (And not in Silent Night.) Many would say the angels declared this phrase when appearing to the shepherds. But with the shepherds in earshot they declared, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests" (Luke 2:14).
Peace, the way the world thinks of peace and the way the German and Ally soldiers thought of peace, isn't coming to this earth until Jesus returns. The peace the angels spoke of is a peace which resides in each _of us who know Jesus. A peace only he supplies. A rest from our weariness only he can give (Matthew 11:28-30). In our knowing Jesus, God brings his favor and his peace. It's a peace that resides within us.
Jesus said that the peace he gives to us is not a peace that the world can give (John 14:17).
One night, long ago, Jesus was born into silence. The King of kings born into a quiet existence until the time would come for him to teach, heal, and die. And one day he will return. In silence he will return. Like a thief in a silent night (1 Thessalonians 5:2). He will return. Then shortly thereafter there will be real peace. Both peace in our hearts and peace in the world.
Something to consider when you sing Silent Night this Christmas season.
worship Him 24/7...
Below is a video about the Christmas Truce during World War I.