BY GEORGE J. DACRE
Thiells United Methodist Church Pastor Reverend Jessica Campbell, in her pastoral letter this week, told a special story about a church in the Austrian Alps.
It was Christmas Eve and the newly constructed Church of St. Nicholas in Tyrol, a village near Salzburg, was struggling with a broken church organ. The church’s pastor Father Mohr was distraught as his careful musical preparations seemed for naught, But, said Campbell, Father Joseph was about to learn that our problems are God’s opportunities and that the Lord causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him.
Pastor Campbell writes that it came into Father Joseph’s mind to write a new song, one that could be sung without an organ, and hastily he wrote the words “Silent Night, Holy Night, all is calm, all is bright.”
Taking the text to his organist, Franz Gruber, he explained the situation and asked Gruber to compose a single tune. That night, December 24, 1818, “Silent Night” was sung for the first time as a duet accompanied by a guitar at the aptly named Church of St. Nicholas in Obendorf.
Shortly after, the pastor writes to her congregation, as Karl Mauracher came to repair the organ, he heard about the near disaster on Christmas Eve. Acquiring a copy of the text and tune, he spread it throughout the Alpine region of Austria. Says Reverend Jessica, were it not for a broken organ, there would never have been a song “Silent Night.” The story, she says, was told by Robert J. Morgan in “Then Sings My Soul.”
Reverend Campbell said in her pastoral letter, “As we mourn the tragic death of innocent children and teachers, as we hear the doomsday reports that some fear, and as we go through our personal life struggles as a community and globe, let us never forget that God always takes our brokenness, walks with us and, if we allow, makes good come from it.”
She concluded, “Isn’t that the ultimate reason we had the true ‘Silent Night’ of Christ’s birth, anyway?”