There was a little church, St. Nicholas, in Obendorf, Austria preparing for a Christmas Eve service. The Assistant Priest, Joseph Mohr, sat down to practice the organ and not a sound would come from the instrument. What could he do? The organ would not play on that all important night of the year when we celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Joseph knelt and prayed for inspiration from the Lord.
Not too long before, Mohr had visited a family with a newborn child and been inspired to write a poem with six stanzas entitled “Silent Night.” He thought of this poem and then of his friend, Franz Gruber, a school teacher and guitarist at the church. The priest went to Gruber’s home above the school with the poem in hand and explained the problem with the organ. “Can you write music for the poem and play the guitar for the service tonight? “ Mohr asked Gruber? The teacher smiled and assured the priest that he could.
Before the Midnight Service, the choir learned the words and the melody. Franz Gruber played the guitar. Every heart was blessed by the words musically expressing the story of Christ’s birth. The less heard fifth verse continued full of grace:
Silent Night, Holy Night
Already long ago planned for us,
When the Lord frees from wrath
Since the beginning of ancient times
A salvation promised for the whole world.
A salvation promised for the whole world. *
This stanza expresses the finished work of Christmas. Jesus was born, he lived and taught us and died on the cross to save us from our sins – freed us from Satan’s wrath. Then He arose from the grave as the victorious son of God to fulfill the Father’s purpose to redeem each one of us personally – the promised salvation for the world.