Years ago I played the cello at the Christmas eve Mass with other musicians at a Milwaukee Parish. We played Silent Night accompanied by Mame Gruber an actual distant relative of the Franz Gruber, the man who composed the well-known Christmas Carol in 1818. The lilting lullaby of its rhythm has always evoked for me so many Midnight masses squeezed in a pew or up in a choir loft singing or playing. Silence seemed so much more prevalent then. Certainly the Mass was a bit more somber and the walk home was done in silence since talking meant breathing more and who wanted all that cold air in your lungs and who could talk while being all muffed up with scarfs and high collars?
Silence could be the one gift we give ourselves this Christmas season. I recall my mother sitting silently near the Christmas tree looking intently at its lights. She told me that at Christmas, when the house was quiet, she would look at the tree and imagine each light to be friend or family member who was with God. And now this is the first Christmas for me that Mom is one of the lights on the tree… And of course all the other great saints realized the God comes to us in silence for in silence we can hear the quite whisper of the Divine voice or perhaps even a little cry from a baby born in Bethlehem.
In honor of my dear Christmas memories evoked by this beloved song I would like to reflect on some of the phrases of Silent Night in hopes that it may stir a greater love for that God who so loved us that he sent his Only Son to and for us.