"An Old Song"
December 19, 2013
Sing to the Lord, all the earth! Tell of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous works among all the peoples! 1 Chronicles 16:23-24
Joseph Mohr wrote the words to "Silent Night" in 1816, and two years later the poem was put to music by Franz Gruber. That year, accompanied by guitar, the two sang the song at the Christmas Eve midnight mass.
Since then, "Silent Night" has been translated into more than 140 languages, and in March of 2011 UNESCO declared the hymn to be "an intangible cultural heritage."
In 1914, during World War I, the French, German and English soldiers left their trenches in an unplanned Christmas cease fire. Together, each in their own language, the combatants sang of the Savior's birth. With such a pedigree, a person might think "Silent Night" is a thing which should be respected, revered, reverenced and cherished.
Today, and in the name of "political correctness," a number of America's public schools are bending, folding, spindling and mutilating the song. Listen carefully and you might hear our children being taught to sing, "Cold is the night, no one in sight winter winds, whirl and bite, How I wish I were happy and warm, Safe with my family out of the storm."
Of course, "Silent Night" is not the only bit of Christmas music to suffer so. "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" was renamed, "God Rest You Merry Persons," but that didn't sound right. So it has now become, "The Higher Power Rest You Merry Persons."
Painful, isn't it?
That's the kind of stuff which can raise a person's blood pressure. Referring to Luther it would seem that the devil wants to have all the good tunes after all.
So, what's a good Christian supposed to do in the face of Christmas political correctness gone amuck? I certainly don't have all the answers to that question, but I do know this: we make a mistake if we become Scrooge-like curmudgeons and walk through Advent with a scowl on our faces and a "Bah! Humbug!" on our lips.
The truth is this: King Herod tried to stop the first Christmas, and others have tried to do the same ever since. In spite of their best efforts, the songs about the Savior's birth, death and resurrection are still sung all around the world. Yes, there are times when those praises must be somewhat muted, but most of the time we can sing of God's grace with gusto and gladness.
This is why we do well to join with the angels and sing of "God's Good News of Great Joy." Let us proclaim God's promise kept: we have a Savior from sin, a Savior from Satan, a Savior from eternal death.
And singing about that kind of Good News should not be -- can never be -- stifled.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, in old songs and in new, may we glorify Your Son who is our Savior: Your Good News of Great Joy for sinful humanity. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries