In the last two blogs we looked at the lives of the two creators of Silent Night – sorry: we met them! Well, the topic today: the encounter .
Have you seen all my 10 blogs so far? Not all of them? Never mind, you can make up for that. They are heading towards today’s blog and you will then understand better what this unique Christmas carol Silent Night is all about. It touches our innermost feelings, and it’s not clear to us why this happens. What do you think? A lot of people around the world share this feeling. Isn’t it the very inner feeling that we all belong together, that we are not alone in the world? I want to share this very personal experience with you – nothing else! Some friends say my videos sound like sermons! Oh, I can live with it, as long as they don’t sound like they are from the pulpit! Moral sermons go for me completely wrong, no matter how clever they may sound! I just want to share what touches me – really, nothing else!
With his Christmas poem Silent Night, Joseph Mohr shared the fate of his life with his friend Franz Xaver Gruber. An encounter between two people who left their mark on the world – in music, the whole world should so participate! The first listeners were the people of Oberndorf, their pub companions, farmers, firmly grounded people! – anchored in everyday life. It was an encounter between two very different “worlds”! Joseph Mohr, a city child, meets Franz Xaver Gruber, a country child!
I told you in the previous blog that death was a constant companion of Gruber, that the two children they had together with Elisabeth, his first wife, died in childhood. One of them died on Christmas Day three years before Silent Night was created! Perhaps Silent Night was to be a lullaby – for the baby Jesus and for his two little daughters in heaven?
Sorry, now I’m getting a little philosophical: essential changes are not made, they happen – often in human encounters, whether we are aware of it or not. That’s why apeals to morality are useless. They only create a guilty conscience and frustration because they cannot be adequately fulfilled anyway. Our inner impulses pave their way independently. We are „powerless“ against that! They are part of you and me! Let them in, let them out! That sets you free! This is how you will see how unique and important you are! Good ideas / theories, results of discussions at committees etc. may be good and useful – but they only really work on the level of human encounter. Gruber did not confront Mohr with clever thoughts and good advice. He shared his fate – and that became music! Music that goes deeply into our core – in good and bad times.
So, back to that day: Joseph Mohr did not say: “Hi Franz, my friend, you are a great musician, I‘m sending you a nice Christmas poem via Whatsapp, I can’t compose a suitable melody for it – you could, it would fit perfectly on Christmas Eve, maybe it will become a hit! “
He is more likely to have said: “Franz, we went tot he pilgrimage place Altötting two months ago. I told you a lot about myself, including my anger against my superior, Pastor Nöstler, who is enthroned high up in Maria Bühel and sends very angry letters about me to the consistory in Salzburg: my behavior is not priestly, I sing meanwhile at night in the inn – not only uplifting songs, I joke with the opposite sex! …
You, Franz, have listened to me so carefully. I feel you understand my desperation. Being with you I feel like a different person, like a brother! What an experience! My fate is losing its fright. Let’s share this experience with the people in Oberndorf! You’re a musician, I am a musician. The people in Oberndorf like it when we are singing. Music is the language of sharing, it is the language that everyone understands that everyone feels.
An utterly cynical question: why do we have to get to a terrible human low point for a pearl like Silent Night to arise? Shouldn’t we be creating disasters so we can become creative – the more gruesome the better??? Dreadful! I don’t have a straightforward answer to that either! But I know one thing: problems are part of our lives. If we perceive, accept, share them – then they awaken our self-healing powers! Then I see I’m not alone! The question remains: why do I need a problem in order to make this fundamental experience? Look! Not only problems bring people together. Joy does it too! It arises – in life, in the ENCOUNTER. Be careful! Joy is „highly contagious“!!!
Grubers and Mohrs time together in Oberndorf did not last long, barely two years. Mohr had to leave Oberndorf. Gruber accompanied him to Salzburg and dedicated a farewell song to him.
Gruber later wrote in a letter to his friend in Hochburg-Ach, Andreas Peterlechner, that his farewell song was so touching that Mohr cried bitterly when he left, he locked himself in his room and refused to be disturbed for the rest of the day.
At Christmas – Silent Night is particularly touching, isn’t it? After everything I’ve told you in the past blogs, will you experience Christmas this year differently? Actually I just wanted to tell you: – when you feel secure in the circle of your loved ones, think of Joseph Mohr, who, like a child in need, found luck and love in all his dramatic life in the child Jesus. He saw that he wasn’t alone. – If you feel lonely, remember – Mohr was lonely too when he wrote this Christmas poem Silent Night giving so a gift to the whole world. – If you go to Christmas mass in the dark of the night, you know that there are many lights waiting for you in the church and you will feel the community. – When impatient children’s eyes are waiting for the “Christkindl” – it will not only be the gifts that they are looking forward to. There is also a longing for love and security behind it!
When you are stressed, Gruber’s melody will calm you down! Be what you are! That is the message of the child Jesus. That is what Joseph Mohr and Franz Xaver Gruber wanted to share with you in Silent Night!
I wish you ears wide open so that you can also hear the soft tones of life – and a very open heart so the music can flow into your bloodstream and you can be completely YOU.
I wish you a MERRY CHRISTMAS!
- Welcome to the SILENT NIGHT BLOG! (#1)
- How many verses of SILENT NIGHT do you know by heart? (#2)
- Does SILENT NIGHT sing about an unrealistic world?(#3)
- Tenderness is life! (#4)
- Consolation in chaos (#5)
- Silent Night- THE peace song (#6)
- Silent Night – not for moralists! (#7)
- Silent Night – a pastoral idyll? (#8)
- Joseph Mohr – a saint? (#9)
- Franz Xaver Gruber – a simple village school teacher? (#10)
- Encounter – this is where life happens. (#11)