This Week at Trinity Beamsville
December 18, 2020
This week I spoke with a congregant about the profound peace of Christmas Eve. She expressed how she would miss singing Silent Night together on Christmas Eve, that it is a special tradition for her. There really is something special about the stillness and unity of that moment each year.
The story behind the Carol Silent Night is remarkable, and I think especially relevant this year.
It was Christmas Eve in 1818, in the picturesque village of Oberdorf, near Salzberg, in German-speaking Austria. The 26 year-old priest, Joseph Mohr, discovered that the church organ was broken; a mouse had eaten through one of the leather bellows, and no music could be played. Christmas Eve Mass wouldn’t be the same without music. He could play the guitar, but the music he had was for the organ, and wouldn’t come across well on guitar. He sat down and penned the lyrics to Silent Night and rushed through the snow to musician Franz Gruber, who set it to the lullaby tune we know today.
Stille Nacht was appreciated that Christmas Eve for its simple beauty. It became well known and travelled across Europe and North America by word of mouth, especially via an organ repairer who brought it village to village with him as he made his repairs.
One hundred years later, World War I was happening across Europe, and by Christmas Eve of 1914, more than two million men had fallen. Soldiers in opposing trenches were only one width of a football field apart, with “No Man’s Land” in-between.
On Christmas Eve, at the section where the British opposed the Germans, some commotion was observed on the German side. They began lighting Christmas trees, and began to sing “Stille Nacht”. The English joined in the carol singing with “Silent Night”. In an unofficial truce, soldiers crossed “No Man’s Land” to exchange small gifts of cigarettes, candies, holly and – handshakes. They ended Christmas Eve playing a game of football.
The way this piece of music bridged such a divide is unbelievable. The song was created out of what would have been a stressful circumstance (just ask our Andrew how he’d feel if the organ went on Christmas Eve!) A little creativity, and look at the impact it had, not only to the congregation that night, but even years after Father Mohr’s death.
I believe God still works in and through willing hearts today in amazing ways. Guns laid aside for footballs, babies born in love, people supporting each other. There are ordinary miracles happening all around us, sometimes born out of the most difficult circumstances and inconveniences. I trust that even though we can’t be together in person on Christmas Eve, that we will be together even so. As the song in our story bridged incredible divides in the past, I believe that the Spirit still binds us together in ways beyond our imagining as we come together, apart. May this Christmas Eve find us singing together in unison, spaces between us bridged, as we retell this remarkable, timeless story of our faith. We really are never alone, as we’re bound to our community, and with ever-present God.
This Sunday, we will explore the togetherness that Mary and Elizabeth had, as they supported one another in their trials and callings.
God Bless You as you prepare your hearts for Christmas,
Christmas Celebrations with Trinity United Beamsville:
Night: A service of
comfort, consolation and carols.
Monday December 21st 7 pm
Light”: An evening of music and readings to inspire hope.
Wednesday December 23 7:30 pm
Eve Service with Children’s Christmas Pageant
Thursday, December 24th anytime after 3 pm
Eve Candlelight and Communion
Thursday, December 24th anytime after 7 pm
Heart of Christmas”: We continue to celebrate with carols and contemplation
of the Christmas story
December 27th 10:30 am