Does SILENT NIGHT sing about an unrealistic world?(#3)

In the first two blogs gave an orientation for the next blogs.

Today: let’s see the first verse.

The common version in English is not authentic with the original in German. Here the literal translation:

Silent Night! Holy Night!
All is asleep, lonely wakes
Only the holy couple.
Holder Knab (lovely boy) in curly hair
Sleep in heavenly peace! 
Sleep in heavenly peace!

Doesn’t this verse sing of a perfect harmonic world, out of touch with reality?

The cannon thunder of the Napoleonic wars has hardly died down, the country starving after devastating crop failures, Joseph Mohr alone in Mariapfarr in the Lungau, far away from his friends of Salzburg lonely without a family, longing for love, lonely as a young priest with his ideals. 

There Joseph Mohr finds such tender words that radiate so much harmony?

Did he not see the cruel reality around him? Did he want to flee from it?

Joseph Mohr sees the world behind this counts! Misery, despair, hunger, death aren’t all. The life behind counts! „Sleep in heavenly peace“ – sings of tender security, like a child who, with all his helplessness, feels safe in the arms of his mother. This is the intimate trust, consolation in the worst catastrophe. A consolation – without lamenting the suffering! In the peace and calm of the family, that’s where life happens! Isn’t that the secret that touches us so much in SILENT NIGHT?

In the parish church in Mariapfarr, where Joseph Mohr wrote Silent Night as a poem, there is a 15th century painting depicting the homage of the Child Jesus by the magicians from the Orient. The child Jesus, depicted with the „curly hair“. I think Joseph Mohr contemplated this picture long and constantly. That’s when the picture behind it appeared: Magicions from faraway, from distant cultures, from a totally different world, kneel in reverence before a child whom they worship like a king. 

Joseph, the child’s foster father, looks on sceptically in the background from behind a mighty wall, as if to say: „what do they want there?“ 

I can understand him. We, from the established world, like to hide behind solid, safe walls. But life takes place outside the walls! Exposed to reality. That’s where real life happens. Mohr understood that.

You don’t want to close your eyes to the cruelties of the world, do you? Okay, but if you only see the bad things, you will remain behind walls as if you were locked up and life will pass you by and leave you just angry and sad behind! Real trust and consolation would be buried. Then SILENCE NIGHT would really turn into an unworldly kitsch.

More in the next blog, when we take a closer look at the second verse.

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