Silent Night

Read: 1 Timothy 3:14-16

Great . . . we confess, is the mystery of godliness. (v. 16)

Of all the Christmas carols ever written, this is one of the best-loved. In the Austrian village of Oberndorf, the assistant priest, Joseph Mohr, had written a beautiful little carol for the Christmas Eve service in 1818. In it, he envisioned the scene in the stable: the virgin mother watching her new-born child, in an aura of holiness. The church organist, Franz Gruber, wrote a tune to go with the text. But the organ in the church was broken, so at that Christmas Eve service when they sang the song together for the first time, Mohr and Gruber accompanied it with guitar. The congregation joined in by repeating the last line:

. . . Sleep in heavenly peace.

. . . Christ the Savior is born!

. . . Jesus, Lord at thy birth!

. . . Christ the Savior is born.

“Great . . . is the mystery,” exclaimed the apostle Paul in his first letter to Timothy. He goes on to quote a creedal statement from the early church that outlines the basics of Christ’s career, beginning with incarnation and ending in exaltation. “Great, we confess, is the mystery of our faith,” says the church in its communion liturgy. “Mystery,” as in, “Who can begin to grasp the wonder of this thing that God has done?”

The eternal Creator of the universe came to earth as a baby in order to save us by living a perfect life on our behalf and dying a sacrificial death for our sins. When words fail us, worship in silence.

As you pray, contemplate the mystery on this silent, holy night.

Listen along: Silent Night – Keith & Kristyn Getty, Phil Keaggy

About the Author

Rev. Dave Bast retired as the President and Broadcast Minister of Words of Hope in January 2017, after 23 years with the ministry. Prior to his ministry and work at Words of Hope, Dave served as a pastor for 18 years in congregations in the Reformed Church in America. He is the author of several devotional books. A graduate of Hope College and Western Theological Seminary, he has also studied at both the Fuller and Calvin seminaries. Dave and his wife, Betty Jo, have four children and four grandchildren. Dave enjoys reading, growing tomatoes, and avidly follows the Detroit Tigers.

This entry is part 24 of 25 in the series Carols and Lessons