Pastors Page by Rev. Beckie Sweet

“There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them.
Luke 2:8-9  The Message

Wow, now there is a different version of two verses of our beloved account of the birth of Christ from the Gospel of Luke. While we know the story well, the new language employed bring new meaning to those beloved and memorized throughout our history of celebrating Christmas! Well, it was just 200 years ago that the much beloved Christmas carol, “Silent Night, Holy Night” made the worshiping congregation at St. Nicholas Church pause, and listen more closely as they heard the soothing melody and listened to poetic lyrics describing the experience of the shepherds on the hillside not far from Bethlehem at the time of Jesus’ birth. The history of this hymn has a bit of legend associated with it. That means that different sources offer some variety on the story. Here is one version:

In the winter of 1818 at St. Nicholas’ Church at Obendorf, a village near Salzburg, Austria, Joseph Mohr, the assistant to the priest, faced a dilemma. It was just days before Christmas, and the church organ which was so important to providing music for the Christmas services was broken. Since the organ repairman was not a local of the village it would actually be months before the repair could be made, and Christmas would be long past. His solution to the problem of the broken organ resulted in one of the most popular Christmas carols of all time. In 1816 Mohr had written a simple poem that the villagers could understand expressing the wonder of the birth of Jesus. He asked his friend Franz Gruber who was the organist at St. Nicholas to write music to accompany his poem so that they could sing it together using a guitar to accompany their singing. They first performed their newly composed Christmas carol at the Christmas Eve midnight service on December 24, 1818.

While the accounts of how “Silent Night, Holy Night” became so beloved and widely used vary significantly, what we do know is that when we sing this hymn on Christmas Eve, our hearts are at peace as we consider God’s gift of a child, sent to save his people. Because I grew up hearing and singing at least the first verse in its original German language, that is often what I hear in my mind. Amazingly, there is a 2 ½ hour You Tube video that offers this hymn in 52 different languages! This universally beloved and timelessly meaningful telling of Jesus’ birth will be at the heart of our worship services during Advent and Christmas. I invite you to worship with us and experience the powerful ways that we prepare yet again to receive God’s gift of unending love.

Rev. Beckie



Kenmore United Methodist Church | 32 Landers Rd. | Kenmore, NY 14217 | 716-875-5091
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