In 1818, when Franz Gruber, a priest in a small town of Oberndorf in Austria, composed music for lyrics by Joseph Mohr, little did he know that his Christmas carol would be declared an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in 2011. “Silent Night” touches hearts around the world in more than 140 languages! Many translations differ from “Stille Nacht” in the original German. Most English versions use three of the original six stanzas and focus only on the event of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem. They leave out the timeless, global message of the other three stanzas: salvation, mercy, and the amazing power of the Father’s love to the world.
As we study the Gospel of Matthew this month, we’ll focus on the coming of the King and the global implications of His kingdom. We’ll read the story of the humble birth, but before that, we’ll look at Jesus’ genealogy going back to Abraham. Throughout the book, we’ll see Jesus call Himself the Son of Man about 30 times, but we’ll also notice Peter’s words in Matthew 16:16: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
The president of the Silent Night Society in Oberndorf has appealed to churches “to embrace and use all the verses of the carol—as a godsend and as a message to the world.” Let’s heed this message as we celebrate the birth of Christ with a grateful, reverent heart. Merry Christmas!
—Elena Mafter, Senior Editor