State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.
Imagine that during 1818, there were radio stations, phonographs, phonograph records, and the Billboard Hot 100 charts. Assuredly, Bing Crosby’s current milestone of having produced the highest-selling recording of all-time, White Christmas, would belong to others: Franz Gruber and Joseph Mohr.
Joseph Mohr wrote the words and Franz Gruber the melody to the most sacred and best loved of Christmas carols. Lacking the upbeat glorious rejoicing of Joy to the World or Angels We Have Heard on High, Silent Night stands alone as the quintessential carol, magically capturing the true mood and meaning of the Christmas season. Like every great work of art, there is a fascinating story behind the magnificent Silent Night.
Austrian priest, Father Joseph Mohr had written a poem with the words, "Silent night, holy night" during 1816. Two years later on the morning of Christmas Eve, Father Mohr is searching his soul to find the right music for his service at St. Nicholas Church in Oberndorf. Father Mohr’s thoughts turn to the
Father Mohr trudges out into the cold to make the 20 minute walk to Arnsdorf. Franz Gruber is home with his wife and as Franz Gruber wrote on December 30, 1854 in his Authentic Account of the Origin of the Christmas Carol, ‘Silent Night, Holy Night’ that he graciously accepted Father Mohr's challenge:
"Write a fitting melody for 2 solo voices together with choir and for accompaniment by guitar."
Christmas Eve, 1818, Father Mohr and Franz Gruber lead the church in singing the carol Franz Gruber wrote just hours ago. In the words of today’s popular culture, Silent Night was a smash hit, the talk of all the villagers Christmas Day. Within the next 20 years, remember, without radio or recording devices, the carol quickly gained worldwide popularity.
Legend has it that Franz Gruber discovered mice chewed away the bellows of the church organ. Without organ music for Christmas Eve, Father Mohr wrote a poem that Franz Gruber almost immediately put music to and Silent Night was born.
Silent Night is serious business at Oberndorf. Around the world, radio stations featuring Christmas music since late October have played Silent Night countless times with renditions from Frank Sinatra to Destiny’s Child. At Oberndorf, Gruber and Mohr’s sacred collaboration is reserved for one night only: December 24.
Silent Night transcends all other Christmas carols because of its powerful message and meaning. Not holly jolly shaking of bells or cracking of horse whips. Silent Night is soft, intimate with a haunting melody that emotionally grips at the heart. Most other tunes heard this time of year deal with familiar themes of joy, love, Christmas symbols and rituals. Silent Night sets the perfect musical background for the appropriate temperament and reason we celebrate: the birth of the Christ Child.
Franz Gruber’s tender melody and Father Mohr’s sensitive lyrics invite listeners to dwell on the tranquil evening the Child was born in a manger. Like that extraordinary night, the music and the words are peaceful. Hustle and bustle dominates the Christmas season for weeks, yet Silent Night with its powerful imagery instantly brings us to a sense of reverent reality.
"Shepherds quake at the sight. Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia." Suddenly, in just a few musical measures, the true meaning of Christmas comes to mind.
The fourth verse of the German, Stille Nacht translated directly into English is noteworthy almost two hundred years later. The website, Stille Nacht Gesellschaft writes, "The creation of the fourth verse of Silent Night takes on special meaning. Its text expresses a great longing for peace and comfort."
Silent night! Holy night!
Where on this day all power
of fatherly love poured forth
And like a brother lovingly embraced
Jesus the peoples of the world,
Jesus the peoples of the world.
At Christmas we reflect on that special night. We give of ourselves, we sacrifice our time, and we share the greatest gifts of love and peace. We reflect on the Christmas that came to us for the first time that silent, holy night with the Christ Child giving the world a promise of hope and salvation.
I wish you and yours the most blessed and joyous holiday season.
Silent Night Chapel, Oberndorf